Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baked Falafels

I had falafels on the mind today. I used to eat them somewhat regularly when I lived in Brooklyn, NY in my early twenties. New York really opened my mind to the world of food. You could find a restaurant that had cuisines from anywhere on this planet. I had my first tastes of Indian, Greek, Moroccan, Thai, Spanish and Ethiopian amongst many others in that great city.

I grew up with the American basics; hot dogs, hamburgers, casseroles, pot roast and potatoes. We would go so far as to include some Italian, Mexican (which the East Coast will never be able to match) and occasionally Chinese, but Indian was unheard of and strange! Once I finally broadened my taste buds to the flavors of the world, there was no going back! Hold the hot dogs, and bring on more baba ganoush please : ) I want Owen to grow up trying as many different things as possible. Don't get me wrong, I still like my tuna casserole and mac and cheese, but a nice curry here and there keeps me happy.A place called The Falafel King on 7th Avenue and 4th Street was just around the corner from my brownstone. On those nights when I was too tired to cook and didn't have a ton of money, this is where you could find me. I am actually not a huge fan of fried foods (unless it's french fries of course : ) so I decided to try and make a healthier version and I think I did pretty good at matching the taste and texture. I searched online for some baked falafel recipes and took bits and pieces from different places and added my own adjustments to create this recipe. With the help of a food processor, this entire meal didn't take more than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Baked Falafels
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cooked quinoa and or couscous

Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tb. of tahini
1 small garlic clove
1 Tb of parsley

Pita Bread
1 small cucumber
2 medium tomatoes
crisp lettuce leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unless you have left over quinoa or couscous in your refrigerator (like I did), then cook 1/4 of a cup of the grain according to the directions. While that is cooking, Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put the beans, onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, baking powder and spices in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into balls and slightly flatten. Place onto a cast iron skillet that has 1 tsp cooking oil or is sprayed with cooking spray. Brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Then place skillet in the oven for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, puree the yogurt, lemon, tahini, garlic and parsley and set aside. When the falafels are ready, slice a pita in half and stuff each one with 2-3 falafel patties, diced or sliced cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce and as much sauce as you prefer. Enjoy!

Serves 3

*This was a last minute meal for me tonight, so I skipped the pita, and cucumber because I didn't have them on hand. Next time!

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