September 9, 2010

Falafel, as promised.

Falafel

I know it is only the second week of September, but it really feels like fall here. Some trees are showing more than just hints of red and yellow and I've mostly been keeping the windows closed in our apartment. I would have taken a couple more weeks of summer, but now that my mind has switched to autumn mode, I can't complain. One of the best things about this time of year, late summer or early fall, is that there is so much good fresh local food available and with temperatures that allow oven and stove use, there is lots of cooking to be done.

Recently I made falafel (to go inside my homemade pita bread). I often think of falafel as more of a winter food (maybe because in the summer I do less bread baking) but I realized that late summer is the ideal time to eat it. Falafel goes so well with fresh veggies which are decidedly less fresh and flavorful in the cold months. I was so happy to eat it with lettuce and tomatoes from the farmer's market. I even had fresh cucumbers and dill to make a simple tzaziki sauce to put on top.

Falafel is really easy to make, it just takes time to soak the beans. It is often deep fried, but I make little patties and pan fry them in olive oil. Its full of protein, good flavor, and goes so well with garden or market fresh veggies.

Falafel
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
The chick peas (garbanzo beans) need to be soaked for at least 6-8 hours before you make this recipe.
 
1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small onion, quartered
1 tablespoon ground cumin
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsely if you don't like cilantro)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Oil for frying (I use olive oil)

Put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water by 2 or 3 inches. Let soak for at least 6 hours or up to 24 (check occasionally to make sure they are still covered with water and have not absorbed it all).

Drain the chickpeas and put them in the food processor with all the other ingredients except the oil. Pulse until the mixture is very finely chopped but not quite smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. 

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Form the chickpea mixture into little patties, about 1 inch thick and 2 1/2 inches across. Place patties into the hot pan, as many as will fit without touching. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until browned, then flip and cook on the other side. Continue cooking patties until all the chickpea mixture is used. Serve 2-3 patties on pita bread with fresh greens, chopped tomatoes, fresh salsa, cucumbers or tzatziki (see recipe below). If you have left overs, the falafel will keep, covered, in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

Serves 6 

Tzaziki Sauce

1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

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