Saturday, June 13, 2009
Today's post is, shockingly, non-baking related. I do eat things besides dessert, you know. Although it has seemed that lately, I'm making dessert more than real food. Whatever, it's all good.
I don't know about the rest of you, but lunch is one of my hardest meals to create. Supper is my big meal, but what the hell do you make for lunch? Generally, I don't want to spend a lot of time cooking midday, nor do I want something heavy in my belly. Most often, I'm eating leftovers from last night's meal, or KD, Alphagetti, or something equally hideous. It's not what I like, but it's quick and easy.
It's not satisfying, though. Even though lunch is a quick meal for me, I want something good, dammit! Is that too much to ask? Also, I go to the gym occasionally in the morning, and when I come back I am RAVENOUS. I'd much rather eat something good for me and filling then processed crap.
And that's where Falafel comes in. It's prepared in advance and frozen, so it's always available. It's incredibly healthy - chickpeas are packed with protein and nutrients and stuff. That in turn makes it filling (and protein is great after a workout - helps your muscles heal). Most importantly, it's tasty as hell.
Making falafel is a snap. First you soak the chickpeas. I usually start them in the evening and let them soak overnight, so I add a generous amount of water; that way, they won't soak up all the water while you're sleeping. Also, make sure you add 1 tbsp of baking soda to the water. It'll soften the chickpeas and make them much quicker to cook (more of an issue if you're making hummos).
When it comes to chickpeas, you can definitely use canned, but please - try it with the dried. I do try to cook healthy but I'll be honest - taste always trumps health for me. Using dried chickpeas IS healthier, it's definitely cheaper, but most of all: it tastes worlds better. Trust me. And soaking the chickpeas isn't hard, but it does take a bit of planning. My advice is to soak 2 or 3 cups of dried chickpeas at a time, and then freeze them. That way, you'll always have some on hand and ready to go.
Here they are before:
And here they are after. See how much they plump up?
After they've soaked, drain them and rinse well (especially if you've added the baking soda). Now you're ready to put this puppy together! Add the chickpeas to a food processor, along with one quartered onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your preference), a couple of big handfuls of cilantro, few sprigs of parsley, and the spices listed below. Pulse together until well combined. You want the chickpeas to be finely chopped. Oh, and I chop my herbs with the chickpeas, which turns the mixture a pretty green. If you don't like that colour, chop the herbs seperately and add them at the end.
It's the chopping seperately bit that gets me. I'm lazy, I can't be arsed to add another step. All together it is!
Once that's done, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add in 1/4 cup or so of breadcrumbs, and a couple of tbsps of sesame seeds. Add more sesame seeds if you like; I love sesame seeds, so I add a lot. Mix together well, and add a little water if it seems dry, and more breadcrumbs if it's not coming together yet. Here's what mine looked like when I deemed it ready:
Now you need to form it into little balls. I take a small handful and mold it with my hands to about the size of a golfball. They don't need to be perfect spheres or anything. Martha Stewart isn't coming over for dinner. They WILL be fragile here; as long as they don't completely fall apart, you're good. If they are too crumbly, add more breadcrumbs and maybe a tsp or so of water.
Once they are formed, place them on a plate and transfer them to the freezer. Flash freeze them for 20-30 minutes or so, and then place them into ziplock bags for storage.
Here's what mine looked like coming outta the freezer. Aren't they pretty?
And now, my lovelies, you are ready to be eaten. I bake them - it's WAY healthier that way, they still get nice and crispy, and I'm afraid of deep frying. There. I said it. Bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They can go direct from the freezer to the oven with no problem.
You can eat them just like that, fresh out of the oven, but I like them sandwich style. I take a 6 inch wrap, spread it with some thick, full fat, AMAZINGLY tasty plain yogurt, sprinkle it with lemon pepper, and drizzle some President's Choice spicy Thai chili sauce on it.
I think I was out of yogurt here, so I spread it with hummos instead. Mmmmmmm. Hummos is a common addition to falafel wraps in Israel, and in Syria, I always had it with cucumber. Tasty, tasty, tasty.
Top your wrap with 3-4 falafel balls, fold over, and eat.
These instructions might seem rather long, but really - the prep time is about 5 minutes, 10 if you're prepping the chickpeas first. It takes longer to bake them than it does to put it together. I like to have my falafel wraps pretty simple, but it would be great with cukes, peppers, lettuce, you name it.
Falafel (makes approximately 20)
1 cup dried chickpeas
2-3 cloves garlic
1 -2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion
1/4 - 1/2 cup cilantro
a few sprigs of parsley
2 - 3 tbsps sesame seeds
crumbs from one slice of bread
1. Soak chickpeas in water and 1 tbsp baking soda for at least 12 hours. Drain and rinse well. If desired, the soaked chickpeas can be frozen at this point.
2. In a food processor, add chickpeas, onion, spices, and herbs. Pulse until ingredients are well mixed and chickpeas are finely ground.
3. Place mixture in a bowl and add breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. Mix well. If mixture is too dry, add a tsp of water at a time. If mixture doesn't hold together well, add more bread crumbs.
4. Shape into little balls and freeze. They may be fairly delicate at this stage, but once frozen they are easy to manipulate.
5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Alternatively, deep fry falafel balls in hot oil. Place on a wrap, in a pita, etc., with condiments of your choice.
Yeah...I'm pretty sure this is for lunch today.