meatless . #36 {falafel}

Oy! I had so many posts planned starting with last Sunday but on Saturday evening, what I thought was a weird summer cold – all my joints ached – turned out to be…food poisoning! It was the single worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever had in my life, which has now happened five times. And each and every time, the culprit was a salad that did me in.  I refuse to stop eating them at restaurants but for the love of god people wash your lettuce, serve only fresh lettuce and make sure your people wash their hands. Okay, now that that rant is over, I finally felt well enough to cook today.  Truth be told, falafel is probably the last thing I would ever order in a restaurant but so many of my friends love it, so why not give it a another try? This recipe, which is a hodge-podge of ones I’ve clipped over the years, had nice depth of flavor and was not dense and chickpea heavy.  Mike had his with the classic tahini sauce and I had mine with Mama Lils peppers and schug sauce.  Each of our pitas was also filled with a little lettuce, thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.  With a simple balsamic green bean, tomato, red onion and goat cheese salad, it was just what the doctor ordered! And Mike really liked it so it was a good dinner to thank him for taking care of me all weekend.

Tahini Sauce
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup tahini
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup ice-cold water
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Add all ingredients to a small food processor.  Pulse until smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Put in an airtight container and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Schug Sauce
1 – 4 oz. can of chopped jalapeños, drained
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 ½ tbsp. canola oil
½ tsp. caraway seeds
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
seeds of 2 cardamom pods, shells cracked and seeds removed
5 tbsp. water
Kosher salt

Add all ingredients to a small food processor and puree until smooth. Put in an airtight container and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Falafel
serves 4

1 – 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp. flour
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground fennel
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
½ yellow onion, roughly diced
1 serrano chili, seeds and veins removed
2 tbsp. mint, roughly chopped
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 ½ tsp. baking soda mixed w/1 tbsp. water
Cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
vegetable oil
2 warm pitas, cut in half

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, parsley, flour, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, onion, chili, mint and panko bread crumbs. Pulse slowly until combined but still coarse, about 70 pulses. Add baking soda mixture; season with salt and Cayenne to taste.  Pulse about 10 more times until mixture is combined.  Remove bowl, cover and put in the freezer for 20 minutes to set up.  Remove and using a large soup spoon, form mixture into 1 – tbsp. sized bowls or thick patties.

Using a large, tall sided pot, add enough oil so there is 2″ in depth. Using a frying thermometer to test, heat oil to 350º. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pot and significantly lower the oil temperature, fry the falafel until they float and are golden brown; about 2½-3 minutes. {I am not a huge deep fryer, so I pan fried mine since I formed patties – about 2½ minutes over medium heat on each side.} Use a slotted spoon to remove the falafel from the oil, place atop a baking cooling rack over paper towels set on a baking sheet until all the falafel are cooked.  Serve in the warm pita with the sauce and accompaniments of your choice.

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