meatless mondays: spring forward into falafel…

Happy almost Spring to you! This is the time of year where I start to come out of my winter hum-drum hibernation. I start adding more dates to my social calendar, try to get outside for a walk on a sunny day, and anxiously await the reopening of the farmer’s markets!

While I’m not feeling the spring in my step this first full day of work on the new “spring forward” clock, I’m still happy to have so much more light in the evening. I’m feeling creative in my kitchen again and ready to move on from my winter staples of soup and casseroles.

Tonight, I’m making a middle eastern delight: falafel! There are powdered mixes you can buy, but it turns out much more flavorful if you make it from scratch using chick peas. You can eat them on their own as little bite size nuggets dipped in the yogurt sauce, or you can wrap them in a pita for a more sandwich-like meal. I also like them in a salad, using the yogurt sauce as dressing.

Recipe: Homemade Falafel

For Falafel:
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbs tahini
1 large egg
2 Tbs grated lemon zest
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs finely chopped onion
2 Tbs chopped parsley
½ tsp baking powder
Olive oil, for frying (optional)

For Yogurt Sauce:
2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
3 Tbs chopped cilantro
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs grated lemon zest
1 Tbs ground cumin

Optional sandwich fixings:
pita bread
hummus
lettuce
tomato
hot sauce

To make Falafel: Pulse chickpeas, tahini, egg, lemon zest, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, coriander, chili powder, and salt in blender or food processor until mostly smooth, but still chunky. Transfer to bowl, and stir in flour, onion, parsley, and baking powder.

Shape 1/4 cup chickpea mixture into 1-inch-thick patty or round ball, and place on platter. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture. (Falafel patties can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.)

Pour enough olive oil into large skillet to have 1/4 inch in bottom. Heat over medium-high heat. Place patties in pan, making sure patties don’t touch. Cook 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to paper-towel-lined platter to drain. Repeat with remaining patties. (Or you can lightly spray with olive oil and bake for about 25 minutes for a healthier option.)

To make Yogurt Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Build a falafel wrap using pita bread or a tortilla, a smear of hummus, falafel, yogurt sauce and top with lettuce, tomato, and a hot sauce (like Tapatio or Sriracha).

Nutritional Information
(per 1 patty serving with 2 Tbs Yogurt Sauce):
Calories: 188, Protein: 8g, Total fat: 8g, Saturated fat: 1g, Carbs: 22g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 383mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 4g

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