Friday, November 4, 2011

~Crispy Pan Seared Falafel~

Martha Stewart Living, June 1997
  • Yield Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked (14 ounces) chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion, 4 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup peeled and grated zucchini
  • Pinch cayenne, pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup medium-chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, and cilantro
  • 6 whole-wheat pitas
  • 4 1/2 ounces romaine or Bibb lettuce, (about 12 leaves)
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Olive-oil, cooking spray
  • Tzatziki

Directions

  1. Combine half the chickpeas, the onion, lemon juice, 4 teaspoons water, zucchini, cayenne, cumin, coriander, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add remaining chickpeas to processor, and pulse just until lumpy (should still have some texture), six to eight pulses. Stir into chickpea mixture. Stir in the herbs.
  2. Use your hands to pat the mixture into twelve 2-inch patties, each weighing about 1 1/2 ounces. Place each on a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Place skillet over medium heat, and cook three to four patties at a time, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer cooked patties to a heatproof plate to keep warm in a 200 degrees.oven, if necessary.
  4. To serve, toast pitas, and split them open. Arrange lettuce, tomato, and red-onion slices on each. Place two of the cooked patties on each pita. Sprinkle each with mint leaves. Serve with Tzatziki.

It's a good thing...or is it?


Now Playing: Spectrum by Florence and the Machine

My first experience with a falafel was when I was in college, living in a part of Los Angeles known as Westwood.  I ordered the vegetarian plate at a cozy Greek restaurant.  Intrigued by the brown looking things scattered on my plate, I asked the waiter if he could explain what was on my plate.  He told me that they were called falafels.  They were pretty good, I thought.

As the years went by (okay, they flew by) and I became more experienced with Greek food, I began to develop an appetite for these delicious, yet mysterious things. Since I take interest in learning about anything food related, my bout in the kitchen with making these myself provided me with a sense of accomplishment.  I was happy to have solved the mystery about what was actually in these things.  If you like Greek food and find falafels tantalizing, well then get cooking!  This recipe is sure to please.

 
Photo Gallery

I started with the tzatziki as it needed time to chill in the refrigerator before serving.  Here are three, naked cucumbers!  I covered them up for modesty's sake.  The three cucumbers were then seeded and sliced for the sauce. 
I substituted the plain yogurt for a dairy-free soy version.  At first I was skeptical about the switch, however it ended up tasting really good!
In the garden I found plenty of mint for this recipe. 
On my way back from the garden I couldn't help but notice the beautiful persimmon tree that was ripe with sweet, juicy fruit.  Shown here is just one side of the tree! I can't wait to check out Martha's website for some persimmon recipes.  This was our first year pruning the tree and we are reaping the rewards!
 
Back in the kitchen, the cilantro, parsley and the chocolate mint were smelling so good!
Once the herbs were chopped, they were added to the yogurt along with the olive oil, lemon juice and the sliced cucumbers.  The tzatziki sauce was finished and ready to chill in the fridge while I worked on the falafels.
The falafels were served with pitas, lettuce, herbs, thinly sliced onions and tomatoes. 
 I used my trusty mandoline for the really thin onion slices.
The falafel making:

In the food processor the spices, onion, chickpeas and the cucumbers were pureed until smooth.
I'm getting closer to the much-anticipated falafel.
The trio of herbs were added to the falafel paste.
Each patty was carefully weighed to 1.5 oz and then flattened like pancake.  Before frying they were left to rest on a cookie sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes.
I peeked out of my kitchen window and was taken aback by the autumnal beauty that was glowing in the distance.  My favorite, picturesque barn was illuminated by the glory of fall. 
Okay, back to the cooking.  Here is the first round of hot and sizzling falafels.
Ben came home from work and brought me a tasty pumpkin spice latte!  I'm especially happy to be getting some caffeine before my seven day detox begins.
Yeah, well the first round of falafels were awful.  They didn't cook well and they barely held together.  So, I brainstormed a bit.  My hypothesis was that the cornstarch would make the falafels hold together better. 
The starch was added to the patties and then I awaited the results. 
While I waited in anticipation for the falafels to fry, I set out the ingredients for the pitas.  The tzatziki sauce is shown in the middle of the plate.  The tomatoes are called Pierce's Pride and they were from Sarah's garden.
As it turns out, the cornstarch was exactly what they needed.  The falafels held together well and browned nicely after I adjusted things a bit.
At first, Gabriel was not going to try the falafels
Precious Sarah watched Gabriel eat and then she began contemplating giving her falafel-burger a taste.

Ben thought that the was dinner pretty good, though he did notice that I substituted the yogurt with a dairy-free version.  

As for me, I loved everything about the meal including the soy yogurt.  The falafels were warm and tasted of cumin and coriander, just the way I remembered them in Westwood. Herbs and spices always awaken my spirit and so consequently I enjoy aromatic meals every so often. 

Getting spicy is always a good thing!


~Dinner was served~



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