So what is a slider? I hear you ask. The term is used in the United States, to describe a mini burger, or indeed any kind of sandwich in a small bun. Sliders aren't very common in the UK but I saw them on the menu on a rare night out in a cocktail bar and it struck me that a slider is pretty much the perfect size for a kid.
So how to make a vegetarian slider that my kids would be happy to eat?
Despite not liking any vegetables or any pulses, R really likes falafel. I think it's because we sometimes go out to get them as takeaway and he loves the whole experience. In fact he always eats the whole falafel wrap - complete with hummus, shredded salad and garlic sauce - the only occasion he tucks into these things! But when I have tried to make authentic falafel at home I haven't had much success. Plus I hate deep frying things - too scary, too smelly and all that oil really isn't good for any of us.
So I decided to try making mini falafel burgers that could be baked in the oven. I was nervous about serving these to the kids because they look quite different to the deep fried falafel we get in the takeaway. R's first question was "are these homemade?" - which is usually a negative to him. But he was excited about having falafel at home AND about having a burger. Plus I let him have a white bread roll which is a bit of a treat for him, us usually being a brown bread household!
And the falafel sliders were a huge success! The whole family loved them and I will definitely be making them again regularly. I served these with sweet potato wedges, salad and hummus. Baby S and the grown ups ate everything, Miss R ate everything bar the sweet potatoes and R just ate the falafel burger and bun. To me that counts as a HUGE mealtime success.
I've had problems with veggie burgers falling apart in the past and so to make these I've used some of the liquid from the tin of chickpeas to help bind them together. Known as aquafaba this ingredient is increasingly being used as an egg replacer for vegans. Read more about aquafaba and other vegan food hacks.
Here's how to make falafel sliders, or mini burgers:
1 x 400g tin of cooked chickpeas
2 tsp aquafaba (the liquid from the chickpeas, see above)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp plain wholemeal or spelt flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, reserving the aquafaba (see above). You'll only need 2 tsp for this recipe so reserve the rest for other uses or discard. If you like you can rub the skins off of the chickpeas.
2. Place all the ingredients together into a food processor and pulse until well combined.
3. Scrape out of the processor and form into eight balls. Gently flatten with your hands and place on a lightly greased or lined baking tray and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6.
5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning half way, until golden brown on each side. Alternatively you can lightly fry in oil for 3-5 minutes on each side. This makes for a crispier outside to the burger.
6. Serve with salad, sweet potato wedges, hummus and mini rolls. These are also delicious in pitta bread.
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