Tag Archives: parsley

Lebanese Falafel

Lebanese Falafel served with Cucumber Tomato salad and Lemon Tahini dressing

Lebanese Falafel served with Cucumber Tomato salad and Lemon Tahini dressing

I am addicted to falafel. I judge a city by it’s falafel offerings, and can be quite picky. I have lived in two cities with sub-standard falafel, and during that time I honed in on the craft of making my own and demanded that my first meal back in my hometown was falafel. I am a walking example of the Canadian fusion girl: craving Middle Eastern cuisine with the physique of a Scandinavian.

I have tried many versions of this staple, making an effort to write down every tweak and change. Some batches were fit only for the garbage; some made me yearn for the sub-standard offerings. But through dedication and perseverance, I found The Falafel Recipe. The trick: do not cook the beans. This is true throughout the Middle East: In Lebanon and Israel, chickpeas are used. In Egypt, the chickpeas are replaced with fava beans or a combination of fava beans and chick peas (I call this garfava, because it’s fun to say). To make the falafel more Egyptian, the amount of fresh herbs should be doubled, to the point where the falafel looks green. Of course, you could also use a green such as spinach or Swiss chard to get the same effect. Lebanese falafel is the “Canadian” version of Egyptian and Israeli: enough fresh herbs for significant speckles of green, but enough cumin and spice to remind you of Israeli falafel. The uncooked beans give you the classic falafel texture. Not smooth, but grainy (about the size of uncooked quinoa seeds), with a firm bite. For a true classic version, these should be deep fried or pan fried, but I am well aware of my kitchen limitations, and know that hot oil and a stove is a recipe for disaster. Baking is much safer 🙂

To serve these falafels, I have made the traditional falafel pita, made a deconstructed pita including a cucumber-tomato salad and tahini-lemon dressing (1:1 for tahini to lemon juice, mixed well. Add water for consistency as necessary, and some cayenne for spice) and pickled red onions, and eat them plain as snacks. These are by far the best falafels I have ever tasted, and well worth the cravings! (Note: I have not travelled to Israel, Lebanon, or Egypt. But when I do, one of my first stops will be a falafel stand!) Simple, easy, minimal dishes, freezer-friendly, and delicious, these falafels are worth their exalted status in my kitchen.

 

Lebanese Falafel

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water

1 small onion, chopped OR ½ cup chives, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. black pepper

4 tbsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. salt, or to taste

 

Directions:

1)      Drain soaked chickpeas. Rinse well and set aside.

2)      In food processor, add all ingredients. Process until reaches a consistency between couscous and hummus. *Note: Depending on the size of the food processor, may have to do this in batches

3)      Place 2 tbsp. of mixture in your hand, and roll into a ball. Place falafel on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat until no mixture left.

4)      Bake at 350oF for 20min. Carefully flip over falafel and bake an additional 10-15min, until falafel golden brown.

5)      Serve as a deconstructed falafel pita, as a topping for a salad, or plain!

 


White Bean Farro Soup and West African Mafe

On the surface, these Italian and West African soups have very little in common – aside from being served in a bowl. Dig a little deeper and you will find both in Terry Hope Romero’s new(ish) cookbook Vegan Eats World. When I learned that she was planning a new cookbook as a follow up to the excellent Viva Vegan! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It took some serious constraint and a severe warning/spoiler that I would be getting it for Christmas so I wouldn’t jump the gun. One of the best Christmas presents ever!

Vegan Eats World clearly demonstrates Terry’s love for authentic dishes from around the world. All are researched to the hilt to make them as legitimate as possible, which is a must. My general approach to opening the world in my kitchen is to Google a country, find some traditional dishes, and write down the ingredients and troop to the appropriate ethnic market. I never escape the market without more unplanned purchases than what was on the list. Back in the kitchen, I cook to my heart’s content and Google what exactly to do with the splurge purchases (often with no labels in English). Terry clearly shares this approach – right down to making your own spice mixes. Touching on dishes from all 6 continents with a significant population (i.e. humans >> penguins), you have a dish for every occasion! My first two dishes, White Bean Farro Soup and West African Mafe were hits. I have made many more since, and I have yet to be disappointed! An added bonus is the humour throughout – what other cookbook do you have that references both Boy Meets World and Brave New World with puns?

(Note: there are some recipes that are clearly updated versions of those found in Veganomicon and Viva Vegan! as well as the spanakopita recipe from Isa’s Vegan with a Vengeance. However, there is still plenty of new material for this to be an absolute must in your cookbook arsenal. The updates also add to the dish – making them even better than the original!)

White Bean Farro Soup

Italian Kamut and White Bean Soup

This is like Italian Wedding Soup. Or a warm hug on a winter night. Hearty, filling, and something that will remind you of log cabins and skiing in the winter. I made it with kamut instead of farro, because I forgot which one to get at the bulk store. Kamut adds a chewy texture and was fantastic – I am sure farro is just as delicious! It’s a simple soup, but beautiful in composition. Terry has posted her own review as well as the recipe here. (Slurp!)

West African Mafe

West African Mafe

It has been debated that I could live off of peanut butter. I am a sucker for savory peanut butter recipes, and when I saw this West African Mafe recipe I knew I had to make it. Peanut butter lovers take note – there are not one, but three peanut butter soup recipes – all from different cultures! It amazes me that with a slight tweak to spices and the vegetables you throw in you can be transported to Chile, Asia, or West Africa. Similar to the Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Stew (from Asia), this West African Mafe was superb. Full of protein due to the tofu and the peanut butter, the broth is rich and hearty with plenty of spice to go around. It is definitely a distinct dish from the Asian counterpart, with a more subtle heat ‘punch’ – it sneaks up on you and makes you crave more. The eggplant soaks up the broth flavour wonderfully, and the addition of greens give the stew some colour. Serve with a green salad and your grain of choice and this is a superstar meal that will fuel you for whatever adventures take your fancy!

The recipe is on page 160 of the cookbook, and can be viewed via Google Book Preview: Deluxe Tofu Vegetable Mafe.

Vegan Eats World delivers some amazing recipes with a healthy dose of humour and fun. It’s a pleasure to read and delicious to cook!


%d bloggers like this: