Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quinoa Falafel

Falafel is delicious. It's also one of those foods I think vegetarians end up eating frequently because you can count on finding it at restaurants that aren't as vegan-friendly as you'd like them to be. I had toyed around with making my own non-fried version of falafel for quite a while before I finally found this particular mixture. It's a little unusual because of the quinoa, but I think that's what manages to keep these moist when many of my other attempts turned out dry as a bone. Making the patties is really quite easy, and the real trick to making these delicious is in assembling an awesome assortment of toppings. (The same rule, by the way, applies to tacos. As long as you have 5 or so fun things to put on top, I don't even care very much what the "meat" of the taco is. Spend that extra time prepping the toppings and the result will be 10x better.) This recipe for the falafel patties is a mixture of a recipe from a cookbook I can't remember and also mixes in ideas I read on another blog. The final recipe involves this:

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 1/2 tsp. yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients from garbanzo beans through cayenne pepper in a food processor and pulse until everything is evenly mixed. Don't overdo it, you still want the mixture to be a little chunky. Transfer everything to a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix with your hand and form into small balls. I find making them into balls first, then flattening them helps me keep the size even. Don't be tempted to make them too big....smaller will allow more surface area to cook.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and arrange flattened falafel balls on the sheet. Spray everything lightly with nonstick spray again and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. You aren't actually "cooking" much here, just warming through and browning each side, so flip the falafels once and when they look done to you, they probably are.

In the meantime, prep all your toppings:
chopped romaine lettuce
chopped cucumbers
chopped tomatoes
chopped red onion (optional)
lemon wedges

I also make a quick yogurt sauce. I just made up this recipe in my head. Mix together:

1 small container of plain soy yogurt
1 generous handful of chopped fresh dill (dried will work too if you need to, just use a lot less)
1 Tbsp. or so lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 handful of very finely chopped cucumber

Mix it, taste it and adjust seasonings as necessary. This sauce is really good. Usually when I make this I'll end up making a little side salad out of just the vegetable toppings and eat it with a dollop of this sauce as well.

Serve falafel hot with pitas and all the toppings. Yum!