Friday, April 17, 2020

Home-made Falafel

Falafel: the ultimate gluten-free, vegan, healthy, delicious food.  Practically a complete food unto itself with protein, carbs, and healthy fats, and vegetables all in a small delicious package.  But sadly, in the USA, they are often not made gluten-free when they so easily could be.

I was traveling in Granada, Spain a few years ago when my then-fiancĂ© and I were looking for a good, inexpensive meal that was a change from Spanish food.  We found a Lebanese restaurant and really lucked out - their falafel was gluten-free!  It turns out that falafel is usually gluten-free outside of the US.  But more than that, it was the most delicious falafel I've ever tasted.  It was kind of smooth and creamy on the inside, and very, very green as well.  The outside was the ultimate crispy crust.

Recently I decided to re-create that falafel experience.  I was partly motivated because I recently got a Delonghi Deep Fryer.  Deep frying the falafel is what gives it the super-crispy crust.  However, you can also bake or pan-fry the falafel.  Packing the falafel with flavor involves just quadrupling the amount of greens that you put in them, according to most recipes.  I also omit the baking soda that most people use, as that makes them fluffy not creamy.


Thanks to Downshiftology for the recipe inspiration!

Falafel Recipe

The night before you want to cook your falafel, soak in a bowl with plenty of water topping it:

1 cup dried chickpeas aka garbanzo beans


Note: if you must use canned chickpeas, then you must bake them.  They fall apart frying, as I learned the hard way.  The texture isn't as good, but the flavor is still great when using canned chickpeas.

An hour or more before you want to eat (leave extra time if you are baking), drain the chickpeas and rinse.  Put in a food processor with:

1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 serrano chile, de-seeded
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp whole or dried cumin
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste


Pulse the ingredients together a few times until the garbanzo beans start breaking down and everything is blending a bit.  Add

One extra-large bunch of parsley, or two smaller bunches
One large bunch of cilantro

Pulse all the ingredients together until the garbanzo beans resemble coarse sand.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Remove the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Pre-heat your fryer or oven. Cook times vary depending on method:

Frying: 4-6 minutes per batch, but don't crowd
Baking at 400°: 20-25 minutes

With your hands or a scoop, carefully form balls of the falafel mixture, anywhere from golf-ball sized to nectarine sized.  Somewhere in between is typical, about 16 total falafels. Make patties if you are baking.

Whichever cooking method you are using, turn them over once mid-way through the cooking process.

Frying:

Fry in batches of four for two minutes, then turn over and fry for another 1-2 minutes until golden brown to deep brown.

For fryers, you may want to test a single falafel to make sure it will hold together before doing a batch.  If the balls aren't holding together when you form them, or if your test falafel breaks while cooking, you can stir into the mixture:

 2-4 Tbsp chickpea flour or any all-purpose flour (optional)

I typically don't find this necessary, but sometimes my falafel split a little.  I don't mind this.

Baking:

Brush generously on both sides with:

olive oil

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes flipping once halfway through.

Remove the falafel from the fryer or oven and serve immediately while hot, or save in a 200° oven until ready to serve.

Serve with hummus, salad, tzatziki, and pita or, my favorite, gluten-free naan.





Thursday, April 16, 2020

Restaurant-style Hummus Recipe

Have you ever ordered hummus at a "healthy" or "natural" restaurant and it came to the table as chunky, dry, mashed-up garbanzo beans?  What a disappointment!  This recipe will give you home-made hummus that's closer to what you would find in a Lebanese restaurant - creamy and smooth.

Thanks to theKitchn.com for the recipe that inspired this post!


With the aid of a food processor, this recipe is really easy.  The trick is to add back plenty of the delicious liquid from the garbanzo beans.

First, open and drain, reserving the liquid:

a 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, aka chick peas


Put the garbanzo beans in the food processor along with:

About 1/4 of the reserved liquid, plus more as needed
3 Tablespoons tahini
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
juice from 1/2 lemon (only use fresh lemon)
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

Blend the ingredients together for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  If the mixture is balling up it needs a lot more of the reserved liquid.  The mixture should look smooth and creamy like a thick yogurt.

After blending until very smooth for 5 minutes, taste the hummus and adjust ingredients as needed.  Remove to a bowl.  Serve room temperature or chilled.  You can serve it plain or top with any of the following:

Olive oil
Paprika
Parsley garnish
Pine Nuts

Serve with pita wedges, crackers or chips of choice, or my favorite, Gluten-free Naan.  I've never been a fan of pitas so I have never developed a recipe for them.  Naan is much tastier!

Hummus saves well in the fridge for several days.  I don't know how long because mine never lasts more than four days!