You say Chickpea, I say Garbanzo

I’ve always wanted to make falafel, but assumed it was a complicated dish and avoided it. Well, it isn’t complicated and it’s a great quick, “kinda healthy” meal. You toss a bunch of ingredients in a blender or food processor, mash it into a little ball and fry it. Pretty painless, although it took me a while to assemble the ingredients since I didn’t have most of the spices and tahini. Here’s the recipe for a Mediterranean feast. You’ll need:

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

Yogurt Sauce

  • 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 3 Tbs. chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin

1. Pulse the first ten ingredients (through salt) in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth, but still chunky. Dump it into a large bowl and stir in the flour, onion, parsley, and baking powder.
2. Pour enough olive oil into large skillet to have 1/4 inch in bottom and heat. I always test the readiness with a couple breadcrumbs or a few drops of water. If the oil crackles and scalds you, it’s ready.
3. Shape 1/4 cup chickpea mixture into a patty like the one in the photo, and then lightly pat breadcrumbs on it and drop it carefully into the pan and cook 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to paper-towel-lined platter to drain. Don’t let the falafel stick together!
4. To make Yogurt Sauce: Combine all ingredients in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

These turned out delicious and moist– one of my biggest complaints about falafel is that it tends to be super dry at some restaurants. I also put together a couscous salad. To make the couscous you prepare as directed on the box with slightly less water and no butter, then add around 6 Tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 chopped onion, a tomato, parsley and seasoning. I pretty much stuck to the recipe on the back of the TJ’s couscous box. Not very creative, but yummy. The boyfriend made a gyro out of his and wedged the falafel in a warm pita with hummus. I’m getting kind of hungry thinking about it.

WARNING: for those of you who don’t like chickpeas or have never used them, please note that chickpeas are the same thing as garbanzo beans. I traveled to three separate grocery stores like a moron searching for chickpeas with no luck. I like the name garbanzo better, and think it would also be a good name for a cat.

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