Friday, February 25, 2011

Baked Falafel and Tabbouleh

I love falafel!  I've always wanted to try making it.  But, I want to avoid frying my food.  Especially with something as addictive as falafel.  A while back, I posted a picture of baked falafel on my Facebook page.  It was my first attempt at making it, and it tasted great despite looking a little rough.  Last night, I made it a second time and it looked much better!  Just for fun, I put the older photo at the bottom of this post for comparison.  Both times I served it with a basic tabbouleh recipe I got from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, with extra lemon of course.  The small dish of sauce is something I made up.  There's a Lebanese restaurant near my house that serves falafel with a lemony, garlicky tahini sauce.  I attempted to approximate it, and it turned out to be really well!  I'm proud of myself for being able to figure out what the main ingredients were in the sauce and play with the ratios to get something I liked. 

Since the falafel is baked, it's not crunchy on the outside as if it were fried.  It still tastes like falafel however.  The tabbouleh is a very basic recipe, but it's fine just the way it is, except for a little extra lemon.  :) I made a half recipe this time, a full recipe is more than enough to feed 2 people as a side dish.  It kept well in the fridge overnight, I ate the rest for a snack. The tahini sauce is tart and tangy, with a little bit of a salty garlic taste to it.  It's awesome, but I don't know what it would go well with except for falafel.  I didn't measure anything when I made it, but I did my best to approximate it in my recipe below.

Baked Falafel
Serves 2

1/4 cup chopped onion (I used a little extra, probably another tablespoon or two)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed well and drained
3 cloves garlic, quartered (the original recipe says minced but they go in the food processor so who cares)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda (for non-bakers, that's the stuff you keep in the fridge to stop the smell.  If you're like me, it's probably 6 months old and you need to buy some new...)
1 Tbsp flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp olive oil

1) Preheat oven to 400.
2) Wrap onion in cheese cloth and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Set aside.  (I forgot to squeeze the onions last night and it didn't make a discernible difference).
3) Place garbanzo beans, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and baking soda in a food processor. Process until the mixture is coarsely pureed. 
4) Mix garbanzo bean mixture and onion together in a bowl. Stir in the flour and egg. Shape mixture into four large patties and let stand for 15 minutes. 
5) Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties in the skillet; cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. 
6) Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. 

Lemony Tahini Sauce 
Concocted by Scienter
Serves 2ish

2 - 3 Tbsp tahini
Juice of half a lemon
A good amount of granulated garlic powder (probably 1 Tbsp, maybe a little more, I didn't measure)
A pinch of Aleppo pepper

Mix all tahini and garlic powder.  Gradually add the lemon juice and stir, until the sauce lightens and is creamy (it starts as looking a little grainy and feels a little thick, but as you add the lemon juice it will get lighter and become creamy).   Dish out into small bowls and top with a pinch of Aleppo pepper.
Slightly adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Serves 2.  

1/4 cup coarse bulghur
2 tomatoes, diced (I seeded them as well)
1 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped mint
2 scallions, chopped or thinly sliced
juice of 1-2 lemons (I used 2 and then an extra 1/2 later)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Traditionally, tabbouleh is served with lettuce leaves.  I used pita bread instead. 

1) Cover the bulgur with lots of cold water and let it soak for 10 minutes. Rinse well and then press out excess water. 
2) Put the bulgur in a bowl and mix with tomatoes and lemon juice.  Let it sit for 30 minutes so the bulgur will absorb the juices. 
3) Mix it with the rest of the ingredients.  Add the juice of an extra 1/2 lemon if you want.
4) Serve with pita bread (or lettuce leaves). 

Here is the picture of my first baked falafel that I posted on Facebook.  This tabbouleh had curly parsley in it.  The picture up top had flat leaf.  I'm torn, I think the curly may have been better.  But, I never use it in anything else (it was all the grocery store had).  I use flat leaf in a lot of things. 


Michelle said...

Oooooooh, I'm learning so much! Thanks!

I wonder if mashing the garbonzos with a potato masher could suffice?

Do you know what letting the falafel stand 15 minutes before cooking accomplishes?

I've never tried cooking with bulghur wheat before. Hmm. . .


Scienter said...

Mashing would probably work if you mashed them really, really well and then finely chopped everything else that needed to go in the food processor. I have no idea what the 15 minutes is for. I think baking soda is a rising agent, which is why people use it to bake. My guess is that is has something to do w/ the egg and baking soda, to help the patties stick together while cooking. They felt slightly floppy when I was flipping them in the pan.

Bulgur is awesome! There are lots of middle eastern salads that use it. Some involve tomato juice, others use yogurt. It's also pretty cheap IIRC. I bought a big bag months ago and I don't remember it being pricey. Plus, I'm just finishing it now, so it lasts a while.


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