I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

October 10, 2010

Felafel Salad

I have a big catering job coming up.

A group of ladies that come together to craft and talk and eat. I have been doing their lunches for the last few times and always like to make it interesting. I need a lunch box that is yummy, has gluten and dairy free options, yummy, healthy, easily eaten without mess, and of course, yummy. I happily adjust my menu to accommodate InTolerances and if people have special requests I always try my best. Some requests I've had are for 'squishy' food- lady has braces; no garlic- quite common actually; and 2 ladies have a chicken farm and cannot abide chicken!

This salad covers most of these, but I make a 50/50 split with another meal, so people can always swap if they want to. I'll write about the other salad shortly, but today is all about my Baked Pumpkin Chickpea and Felafel Salad.

Start off with a decent felafel mix. Yes, of course you can make your own, but I'm looking at A LOT of salads and need to save time somewhere- I still have morning and afternoon teas to make as well. These are a couple of great gluten free mixes, they are both yummy and taste fairly similar, but I actually like to blend them together and get the best of both worlds.

The Mix is so very simple. Just add water. That's it. Leave for a while to firm up, then mold into balls. I'm making mini ones so they can be stabbed easily with a fork and eaten in one little ladylike chomp. If you are using your hands, keeping them wet stops the mix sticking to you, but as I need uniformity I use a little scoop for shaping, don't compress it too much or it won't bi nice and fluffy inside. Set aside for a bit to rest and start preparing the pumpkin.

Pumpkin is such a yummy vegetable. It has a lovely sweetness and pretty colour that this dish really needs to give it a lift. You can use any sort of pumpkin, today I chose butternut simply because it was on special!

Peel and chop the pumpkin into little cubes. Again, mine are quite small, but make yours the size you want them.

Toss in some oil and a little salt and bake them on a lined tray until browned and softened. Be careful not to cook them until squishy as they will disintegrate in the salad as soon as you try to toss it.

Now, you have a couple of options. Traditionally, felafels are deep fried until crisp on the outside and piping hot on the inside. This of course, is the best way to have them. But... they can also be shallow fried, or even baked. Which ever method you choose, just be really careful not to overcook them, remember there is no meat or such to cook through, so they don't take long. If you leave them too long they will be horrible, hard lumps that can be used as weapons to throw at people you don't like. Today I'm shallow frying as I'm just doing the dry run for testing weights and quantities, but on the actual day I'll probably deep fry them for speed and convenience.

Let your little felafelly and pumpkiny treasures cool down while you get on with things.

Drain a good quality tin of chickpeas and rinse them well to get rid of any goopiness. If you have time feel free to soak and cook your own, but remember I need a bit of a hand preparing for crowds.

This salad needs a tasty dressing that will compliment the spiciness of the felafels while not overpowering the pumpkin. I like to use a yogurt base with a bit of tahini and a splash of lemon juice for sharpness, and throw in a clove of garlic. Blend it all together and thin it down with a bit of water if you need to.

Now the greens.... spinach is so tasty and good for you, think of Popeye! A good handful for each person is usually enough. Also chop up some nice flat leafed parsley, stems and all, and mix in. 3-4 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half add that extra burst of sweet juiciness to finish the lot off.

Toss the felafels, pumpkin, chickpeas, greens and tomatoes together gently.

Drizzle lightly with the yoghurt dressing and pop into cute little containers like these noodle boxes. Or for more of a family meal serve the salad on it's own, with the felafels served hot on the side.

Along with the salad box, my ladies get: a small roll and butter, a cute little juice, some dainty fresh fruit and, most importantly, some chocolate. Doesn't that sound nice?

So Readers, what do you like to eat for lunch?


  1. Now that the weather is warmer, it's salads for me! I love them and it's no chore to eat them :)

  2. This is a fab feast my friend. Love the little box'd lunch idea & I'm a big fan of the old Felafel mix, its easy, its quick & tasty as. You did good Luv :)
    PS: Oh I hear ya if you overcook these little sukka's - weapons of destruction for sure !!!!!

  3. Falafels are great! Just love them but have never seen them in a mix before. Yumm!

  4. I absolutely adore felafel - have never tried the mix. Good to know you and Anna find them acceptable - I'll look out for them next time!

  5. oh my - what a wonderful idea!!!!! And those lunch boxes are certainly one that I would love to eat!

  6. This is fantastic! The salad looks great, and you've got some wonderful variety in the lunch box. They will love it! You did well catering to the intolerances.
    I love salads for lunch. Usually involving sirena tuna in oil (my love). Occasionally I get a craving for a big salad roll though - with chicken breast, salad (inc beetroot, of course!), avocado, cheese and mayo. on a capeseed roll. yum!
    Heidi xo

  7. Hello Readers,
    Salads are always great to have for a nice lunch aren't they? They can be tarted up with a bit of bling like smoked chicken or goats cheese for that something special.
    Definately give the mix a try, it will surprise you with yumminess. I actually use it to make 'Lamafels' using lamb mince as well for my vegofobic BigJ!
    Lovely to hear from you all xx

  8. Yummm! I'd certainly be happy to receive that lunch - it looks healthy and delicious, the perfect combination!

  9. What a lovely balanced little lunchbox - I'd love to be the recipient of this tasty meal! :)

  10. That is a beautiful lunch. Thanks for the info and pictures, I learned alot.

    Plan B

  11. Good alternatives there not to deep fry them. I do not like to deep fry cos I end up wasting a lot of cooking oil! :O

  12. I love falafel! This looks like such a fun dish, I love how you packaged the whole thing. I added it to my favorite recipes from last week post. Thanks!

    ~Aubree Cherie

  13. Your lunch boxes are adorable! Can you make one for me, too? :D

    Usually I like stir-fries or salads for lunch. (I just had a very late time lunch salad.) I put chicken in it and a lot of veggies to satisfy me. These dishes always work for me, and especially when I'm busy and lack cognitive capacity to plan something fancy, I'll stick to those.

    I really love you're so open towards inidividual nutritional needs. Many people just seem annoyed when somebody has a special wish, but I guess it makes you become more tolerant when you have have problems with several kinds of food yourself.

  14. What a great setup you have and what lucky ladies to receive that for lunch. I normally eat leftovers from the night before for lunch. It's normally always a hot meal - but perhaps I should eat more salads...

  15. Yum, that's looks scrumptious! I love having.....kingsley's fried chicken for lunch (kidding), I normally have leftovers for lunch but if I could eat out it would definitely be a really nice chicken kebab.

  16. Yes, it does sound very nice. I like the addition of squash...very autumn like (which is the season in the Northern Hemisphere)...

  17. wow, no garlic, and I can't believe the ladies don't like chicken. What a shame!! Esp since they are in prime position to have some awesome chickens!! Looks like a very healthy lunch. Would you like to pop over and prepare lunches for me before work everyday? Thanks so much in advance! just kidding.

  18. I really rate the Orgran Falafel Mix, I recently discovered that if you add extra water to the mix you can make the most delicious shallow fried patties from it - purely in the name of experimentation of course, not because I foolishly threw in twice the amount of water needed!