Falafel. I became obsessed with it in high school. I ate it every Tuesday, in between track practice and piano lessons. When I got to college, there was thankfully an amazing falafel place next to my dorm (Pauly’s Pocket). Soon though, I was on a bit of a falafel overload. I needed a break. It wasn’t until this year that I re-discovered falafel. Thanks in part to living in Brookline, home to many delicious Middle Eastern eateries (Rami’s=amazing) and hanging out with Sara, another falafel fan. So after traveling around Boston and surrounding areas, testing out falafel, we decided we needed to make our own. Sara found a fairly simple, healthy falafel recipe from Martha Stewart and we threw our own little Middle Eastern night.
First on the menu was the falafel of course. One important fact Sara and I discovered- chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. This may come in handy when you’re searching for chickpeas. Anyway. You’re going to need a little food processor to make this, though I’m sure if push comes to shove, a blender could do the job. Put in half the chickpeas (1 1/4 C), onion (1/4 C chopped), lemon juice (2 T), water (4 t), zucchini (1/4 C peeled and grated), cayenne (pinch), cumin (1/2 t), coriander (1/4 t), baking soda (1/2 t), salt (1/2 t), and pepper (1/8 t). Whew. What was that, like all the ingredients? Pretty much.
Process the mixture until it’s smooth and then move it to a separate bowl. Now put the other half of the chickpeas in the food processor (1 1/4 C) and pulse it a bit, leaving it lumpy. Combine it with the smooth mixture. And add any herbs that you want (parsley, mint, cilantro, etc.).
Now, using your hands, form 12 little patties. The recipe says they should each weigh 1 1/2 oz., but if you know what 1 1/2 oz. feels like, then you are a far better chef than I. I just made 12 patties. Then put them on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and put in the fridge for about 30 mins. This will make them easier to cook up. Oh and make sure you don’t open the fridge quickly when you hear a noise and let the whole tray fall out. Ahem. Close call.
Now you’re ready to cook them. Spray a skillet with some Pam or other cooking spray and put over medium heat. Cook a few patties at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Clearly, we did not keep ours in the fridge long enough as they were falling apart a bit.
But they looked delicious nonetheless.
We decided that it was a must to make the tzatziki as well, though we weren’t quite ambitious enough to make our own yogurt. We peeled, seeded, and cut the cucumbers (3 medium) and mixed them with some salt (1 t). We weren’t sure it was necessary to “drain” them, so we pretty much skipped that step, just pressing them a bit to extract excess liquid. Then we Put them in a bowl with the yogurt (2 C), garlic (2 t), dill (2 T), mint (1 T), extra-virgin olive oil (1 T), lemon (1 T), and salt (1 t).
You’re supposed to let the yogurt mixture sit in the fridge for an hour so the flavors can blend, but as usual, we had no time or patience for that. No matter because it was still fabulous. Oh, and I just gave you the whole recipe (makes 4 cups), but we cut it in half and it was more than plenty.
We even went a step further and whipped up some tabouli. We weren’t quite sure where to purchase bulgur, but we managed to find quinoa at Trader Joe’s, which we discovered was a fine substitute. Nina chopped up the parsley (it calls for 3 bunches, but use however much you want). And then we mixed the quinoa (3 T cooked), chopped tomatoes (1), chopped onions (1/2), fresh lemon juice (1/4 C), and salt and pepper (to taste) in a separate bowl. We added the the parsley to this mixture and extra-virgin olive oil (1/2 C, but that seemed like a lot, so we just added how much we felt gave a nice consistency).
Then we cut up some whole wheat pitas. And put all the food out so we could create our own falafel pockets. If you prefer to use lavash bread, I’m sure that would be fabulous as well.