Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Falafel

One week into a two week working vacation out in the Bay Area, here's what I've learned: 1) Mother Nature can be cruel. (Yes, we're talking about arriving in CA along with the rains, when suddenly, out of nowhere New England turns 68 degrees and sunny); 2) Two much red wine with dinner will almost certainly impact your Scrabble score; and 3) Just because there is a food processor sitting in a prominent position atop the refrigerator doesn't mean that all its parts are intact.

Yes, well, I was determined to make falafel last night, equipment be damned! I have to admit, I'd been feeling a little wimpy keeping up my vegan-once-a-day habit with Peace cereal and coconut milk. Everyone in this house (we're staying with my in-laws) is an amazing cook -- including, of course, my fabulous Reluctant Carnivore husband -- and I decided it was time to step up to the plate and serve a vegan dinner. I chose falafel because it was the first vegan recipe that I got RC really excited about, and also because my in-laws happened to have a copy of the Moosewood Cookbook in the house.

I immediately noticed a few discrepancies with the Skinny Bitch recipe I've been using at home. The main one being that the S.B. recipe calls for baking the falafel, while Moosewood goes the old-fashioned frying route. S.B. calls for breadcrumbs, Moosewood only uses flour. Both, however, call for mixing the batter in a food processor. This is how I did it instead. (I think that might be a potato masher. Not sure. There were many strange and interesting devices hidden in my mother-in-law's cabinets.)

I made sure to mince the garlic, scallions and parsley as small as possible (something I normally rely on the processor to do), and once I was 2-3 minutes in, the batter came together easily. I used a blender to make the tahini-lemon sauce (also from Moosewood, but I jazzed it up with extra garlic and plain soy yogurt.) For sides, I sliced iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and baby carrots. I also roasted some garlic because I found a cute little garlic roaster while searching for the missing food processor part, so that ended up on the table as well. Not really authentic middle eastern, I suppose, but it did prove my point that roasted garlic can improve just about any recipe.

Here they are, happily sauteeing in some coconut oil:

Not a very good shot of our table, but I'd forgotten to take pictures until only 3 falafel were left:

The Reluctant Carnivore proclaimed them the best falafel I'd made yet -- garnering 5 stars, "meatilicious" on his vegan rating scale -- which makes me think that I'll probably go the hand-mashing route from now on. The flavors seemed bigger and bolder, I'm guessing because the ingredients weren't so uniformly pureed. Also the texture was a lot nicer. These babies also made for a nice salad atop a bed of mixed greens, along with the leftover tahini sauce -- a no-brainer for today's vegan meal.

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