Falafel in Your Face
I am currently in the midst of my annual Lenten vegetarianism. While I enjoy this time of reflection and self-denial, the absence of flesh does, admittedly, leave a protein hole in my diet. I'm a long distance runner, on average pounding out between 30 and 50 miles per week. I burn a lot of calories. Beyond the exercise, I lead a fairly active life. I am constantly on my feet at work, I walk a lot, I have a demanding little terrier and, the calorie deficit just adds up from a variety of places and I need fat from other forms. My latest fast go-to dinner has been falafel, protein rich chickpea patties fried up in grape seed oil and served with flatbread. Yum. What started as a Middle Eastern street food has become one of my favorite vegetarian staples. Even my meat-eating boy roommates have gotten on the falafel bandwagon. I typically serve the meal with a simple salad a make out of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. It's light enough for the transitioning to warmer weather yet filling enough to satisfy me after a day of work, chores, and running 10 or 12 miles. I like to whip up a quick cucumber yogurt sauce along for a topping and serve it with a couple of dollops of my favorite hummus (Trader Joe's White Bean or Mediterranean Hummus rock my tastebuds). Try this quick, addictive, and rad vegetarian meal next time you're experiencing a meat hangover . . .
- 2 c plain Greek style yogurt
- 1 half cucumber, seeded and grated
- 1 tsp. dried dill
- salt and pepper
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 14.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
- 3 Tbsp. flour, plus extra for dredging
- 1/2 yellow onion, grated on a cheese grater
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 small handful of Italian parsley
- 1 Tbsp. dried cumin
- ground lemon pepper
- salt and pepper
- dried minced garlic
- grape seed oil for frying
- prepared hummus
- tomato and cucumber slices
- crumbled Feta cheese
Drain grated cucumber on a paper-towel lined plate. Pat it dry on top as well to get as much moisture out as possible. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, dill garlic, and cucumber. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Warm the oven to 350˚ and wrap the flatbread in foil. Heat the flatbread in the oven while preparing the rest of the meal.
Pulse Italian parsley in food processor until finely minced. Add garbanzo beans, grated onion, 3 Tbsp. flour, baking powder, cumin, 6 good grinds of lemon pepper, 1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste, and 1 tsp. dried minced garlic to the food processor bowl and blend until ingredients are thoroughly combined and mixture collects on the blade. Using about 2 Tbsp. of the mixture, form a small ball in the palm of your hand, then flatten slightly into a 3/4" thick patty. Dredge lightly in flour, set aside on a plate.
After patties are formed, heat enough oil in a large nonstick skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat to medium-high and fry patties in batches, about 1-2 minutes per side until they begin to turn golden brown. Drain briefly on a paper towel lined plate and keep warm in the oven while finishing the frying. Serve patties warm with flatbread, hummus, yogurt sauce, and tomatoes and cucumbers. Also serve with the rad, self-satisfaction that you're eating a deliciously meatless meal.