Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mini Falafels

We are trying to introduce more vegetarian dishes into our diet for a couple of reasons:
1. Veggies are so good for you.
2. We're cutting back on our meat intake just a bit.
3. Veggies are yummy.

So, I got this awesome cookbook from Fine Cooking called Cook Fresh, and it is PACKED with 150 recipes that all look amazing. The first one that just really caught my eye was for falafel pitas with a tomato cucumber salad. I've tried making falafels before, but I've never had a lot of success with it. They are either too loose, I burn or overcook them, or they are too dry. Ick. But this recipe was simple (minimal ingredients), used a pan sear in olive oil, and finished the falafels in the oven. I made a batch and was shocked at how quickly and easily they came together. But I was bowled over by the taste. These are really delicious. I knew I would like them, but I wasn't sure about Andy. But he loved them. In fact, he kept telling me to stop eating them because he wanted them all. Rude, I know! :) So, I made another batch today. I've been taking two of these with a large salad for lunch and some fruit. It is filling, delicious and good for you. But you could put these in whole wheat pitas, or eat them, as I did on the first night, with the tomato cucumber salad. The best thing about that salad was the cherry tomatoes from my garden. There is nothing in this recipe that isn't all natural and heart healthy. The recipe is from Fine Cooking.

Mini Falafels
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup plain fine dry breadcrumbs; more as needed
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium pickling cucumber or 1/3 English cucumber, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
4 pitas, warmed

1. Heat the oven to 425°F.

2. In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, 2 Tbs. of the oil, the cumin, coriander, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper into a chunky paste. Add the onion and breadcrumbs and pulse until the mixture tightens up. You should be able to easily form it into a patty—add more breadcrumbs as needed. Gently form the chickpea mixture into twelve 1/2-inch-thick patties.

3. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add 6 of the patties and cook until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other sides until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the patties to a baking sheet. Repeat with 2 Tbs. more oil and the remaining six patties. Bake the patties until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and cucumber with the lemon juice, the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and salt to taste.

5. Split the pitas and stuff them with the falafel and tomato-cucumber salad.

Serve over the tomato and cucumber salad, over a green salad, in a pita or plain. I heat mine up for a bit before eating, but Andy loves them cold as well. Versatile little guys and only roughly 100 calories a piece.* (My batch makes between 14-15 falafels while Fine Cooking said it made only 12.)

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