Jun 222010
 
There are a few things that I waited WAY to long in life to start eating.  

1) Goat Cheese: Until college I didn’t really know this creamy cheese existed, and if I had, I probably would have been grossed out by the idea of eating cheese from a goat.  But I would have been wrong.
2) Mushrooms:  Turns out what I once thought was fungus (although true) is one of my favorite foods.   
3) Fish: You’d never know from reading this blog, but believe it or not, up until about 3 years ago I ate NO fish.  
and 4) Falafel:  I had never heard the word until I studied abroad and found these “Kabob” places that sold these little delightful balls of chickpea joy.  


So I set out to create my own version…slightly healthier but equally falabulous.  To go with it, I made up a recipe for a greek quinoa salad.  First I roasted some peppers and zucchinis and cooked the quinoa.  


Then I mixed that together with thinly sliced red onion, tomatoes, and some really good feta, all tossed in a homemade red wine vinaigrette.  This salad, out of no where, almost stole the show from my falafel. Almost.


Making the falafel was actually easier than I expected.  You just throw a bunch of stuff in the food processor (including soaked chick peas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, among others) and let it rip.  You let the mixture sit for a bit and then make it into balls.  If I did it again I’d make mine a little smaller.  Instead of deep frying, I pan fried  them to make them brown and crispy and then let them bake in the oven until they were cooked through.



Since I moved to New York, my favorite lunch is the Falafel and hummus platter from Crisp.  And even though I know all the ingredients are fundamentally healthy, their falafel is deep fried and kinda like healthy fast food.  Mine were very fresh and a lot less oily.  Make a big batch and freeze for whenever the craving strikes. 


Nutritional Highlights:  This falafel is totally animal product free (we call that vegan) and I’m all about cutting out some meat where we can.  It’s incredibly flavorful, packed with good protein (from the chickpeas) and way healthier than the deep fried versions you find at your favorite street cart.  Then for the salad.  Quinoa is one of those grains that’s really hot right now because it’s so good for you.  I combined it with a lot of veggies and a flavorful but healthy dressing (and of course some feta).  Another great way to get those who don’t love vegetables to eat them.

Falafel
recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablesppons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 tspn red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4-6 tablespoons flour
  • Olive oil for pan frying
Directions:
1.  Put the chickpeas in a bowl and add water to cover the beans by 2 inches.  Let stand overnight (at minimum 12 hours) and then drain.  You can also use canned but it will be a mushier texture…but still tasty.
2.  In food processor, put chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, salt, red pepper, garlic, and cumin.  Process the mixture until it’s well combine but not pureed.
3.  Sprinkle in baking powder and 4 tablespoons of flour and pulse the mixture. Keep adding flour until the dough can easily be formed into balls without sticking too your hands.  Let mixture sit in the fridge for a few hours.  
4.  Form falafel balls (about walnut size, not quite the golf balls I made).  Heat oil over medium high heat in an oven safe pan if you have it.  Let cook for about 3 minutes on each side  so they get brown and a little crusty mmm.  Then put the pan into a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.  If you don’t have an oven safe pan or if you can’t fit all in one pan, after browning transfer the falafel to a sprayed baking sheet and put that in the oven for the 8-10 minutes.
5.  Serve with tomatoes, cucumber, pita, tahini, or whatever you like with it!  I’d especially recommend serving it with my greek quinoa salad…

Which leads me too…Greek Quinoa Salad!
not really adapted from anything but ridiculously good.  just ask my friends.

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa + 1.5 cups water (cook as directed)
  • 1 pepper and one zucchini (but feel free to use any veggies)
  • Diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Block of feta, cut into small cubes
  • Red wine vinaigrette…bottled or homemade (mine had red wine vinegar, olive oil, dried oregano, garlic powder, lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper
Instructions:
1.  Cook quinoa as directed (2:1 water/broth:quinoa).  Roast pepper and zucchini at 425 for about 15 minutes (drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper).  You can also use raw veggies…I just like that roasting them first adds some sweetness and makes the veggies more tender.
2.  Mix cooled quinoa, pepper/zucchini, raw red onion, diced tomato, and feta.
3.  Red wine vinegar…can’t promise these measurements are exact but it was something like…1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tspn each garlic powder, oregano, pepper, salt, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon honey.  
4.  Add dressing to salad and enjoy!