Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Falafel Fun

For me, falafel has always been one of those foods that can go either way. At Middle Eastern restaurants sometimes the little fried balls of ground garbanzo beans and herbs are chalky and bland. But other times they are moist, delightfully crunchy and perfectly seasoned. When looking for meal ideas in the cookbook How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, Trevor found a falafel recipe. Since we know that when falafel is good, it’s very, very good, we gave it a shot.

The odd thing about the recipe it that the garbanzo beans are not cooked. You get dried beans and soak them for 24 hours. Then you whirl them in a food processor with parsley, garlic, onion and spices. Once shaped into little balls or patties, you deep-fry them for about 5 minutes. The recipe doesn't call for it, but I put them on a cookie-rack-covered baking sheet as opposed to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. I think it keeps fried foods from getting soggy.

We usually make a yogurt-tahini sauce to slather over them and stuff them in pitas with shredded lettuce, and slices of cucumber and tomato. (Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a little feta cheese on top, too.)

The best thing about homemade falafel is its consistency. You know it will always be piping hot, crunchy and seasoned to your taste. Sure it’s deep fried, but it’s also vegetarian. The only other fat in the meal comes from the tahini – and it’s good fat. It’s now become a meal we crave. And because it takes minimal work, it’s suitable for making on a weeknight.