Monday, August 29, 2011

Baked Falafel

I have been on a Mediterranean kick lately. My mom brought me a used copy of a cookbook called, A Taste of the Mediterranean: Vegetarian Style, by Mary Salloum. I'm sure she picked it up at a garage sale or a used book store but I am ever so grateful that she picked it up!

It is full of great recipes featuring foods from Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Morrocco, Spain and Turkey. I know, that is alot of ground to cover in one cookbook, but so far I have only really delved into Lebanon and Turkey and I am impressed!

Flipping through the pages, my fingers stopped on the recipe for falafel. Hmm...I have tried several recipes for falafel but with little success. They never turn out great. In fact, I would trade a dry packaged mix for my previous ventures in a heartbeat.

This recipe had me intrigued, it used raw chickpeas, soaked over night, and then they were processed with onion, garlic and- potato! Very unlike the unsuccessful canned chickpea concoctions I had tried in the past. This new recipe got me excited. But then I remembered how much I hate deep frying stuff. I hate dealing with a mass of oil, splatters and the slow process of cooking a few at a time. Pain in the you-know-what.

Anyways, I decided I would attempt these falafels and then I would also try baking them. I adapted the recipe to make a firmer patty that would hold up well to baking and added some parsley for colour and flavour. The results were impressive.

The kids whipped up the tzatziki, combining yogurt, grated cucumbers, garlic, lemon, dill and salt. And everyone in the family got in on the pita-building buffet we had going on. It was fun and delish!

Mom, whatever you paid for that cookbook, it was worth every penny! Thanks!

Baked Falafel
Makes 2-3 dozen depending on the size.
This recipe makes quite a quantity, so either halve the recipe or stick half in the freezer to heat up for a last-minute dinner idea as I do.

You should start soaking the chickpeas the night before you plan on making these. Make sure that the chickpeas are quite dry after draining, otherwise you will need quite a bit of flour to make them hold together. If they are quite dry, you may be able to get by with no flour at all, especially if you want to fry them.

2 cups dry chickpeas
1 small onion, cut in quarters
1 small potato, peeled and cut in quarters
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
up to 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) whole wheat flour
up to 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) corn flour, or more whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
olive or grapeseed oil

Eating now darker than freezing for later
1. Soak chickpeas for approximately 24 hours in 4 times as much water as beans. Drain.
2. In a food processor, place onion, potato and garlic and give it a little whirl. Add chickpeas and process until finely chopped. Remove to bowl and add spices and flour, starting with a few tablespoons and increasing until the mixture begins to hold together. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let stand for 2-3 hours.
3. Just before baking, add baking soda and mix thoroughly. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Add a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush a tablespoon or two of oil on it. Place in oven for 3 minutes to heat pan.
4. For small falafel, take approximately 2 tbsp falafel mix and shape into a ball, flatten lightly. Repeat with remaining mix and place on hot-from-oven baking sheet.
5. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes each side, or fry if desired. Bake them for less time if you intend to freeze and reheat them later, longer if you intend to serve them immediately.
6. Serve with pita bread, thinly sliced lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, tzatziki or hommous. (Hot sauce if you want!)