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Tag Archive: Middle Eastern

Falafel (gluten-free + vegan)

February 1, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Happy February, everyone! We’ve survived the first month of 2015…only eleven more to go before the year I graduate, the year I become an adult, the year where the rest of my life begins arrives.

That’s a while away, though. I’m still getting used to writing the number fifteen so frequently on my papers for school, and I still have so many recipes I want to try and share with all of you, too!

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These falafel–or Middle Eastern crispy chickpea balls–are a dinner staple in my house. I get bored making the same thing over and over again, so for something to be a staple, it must be particularly special. And while it may look plain and simple, this dish is really anything but.

What I love falafel is that they can be made using very little kitchen equipment, require only about ten minutes of hands-on time, and usually yield a ton of leftovers, which are great for lunch and making people jealous. (Though I have brought in falafel for my friends and teachers, too, because I am just oozing with coolness. 😉 ) The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful, and everything on the plate is bursting with nutrition, from the protein in the chickpeas to the healthy fats in the sesame seeds to the vitamins in all of the fresh vegetables.

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Usually, falafel are deep-fried and served in pita bread. Sure, you can opt to do one or both of these routes, but I prefer my falafel baked and served over a bed of veggies for a lighter meal and less mess.

Don’t worry, though. I promise all of the crunch is preserved in the oven! Just follow my advice and you will wind up with a deliciously crispy final meal.

Most bean burgers or fritters call for cooked beans; falafel, however, use dried beans that have been soaked. So, for your first step, make sure you soak your chickpeas in a water bath overnight and up to 24 hours to soften them up.

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The next day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and invite all of your remaining ingredients–including herbs, spices, onions, and garlic–to the party in the food processor and blend everybody up to get well-incorporated.

Then form into balls and place on a prepared baking sheet…

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…and off to the oven they go! (It’s about to get hot in here.)

After thirty five minutes of baking, let the falafel cool for a few minutes before serving with carrots, lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers, and a tasty tahini sauce. It’s as easy as that! (I promise.)

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Falafel

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min (plus soaking overnight)
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 45 min
Yield 25-30 falafel (about 6-8 servings)

FOR THE FALAFEL:

2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours

2 large handfuls (about 2 cups) of parsley, mint, basil, or spinach

1 small onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

The juice of 1 small lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

A pinch of cayenne (optional)

6 tablespoons of olive oil

Romaine lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and other raw vegetables, to serve

FOR THE SIMPLE TAHINI SAUCE:

1/2 cup of tahini (roasted sesame paste)

The juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)

A generous pinch of salt

Water

Directions

FOR THE FALAFEL:

Before you do anything, make sure you soak the chickpeas in water overnight. This helps get the beans soft enough to go in the food processor and get mostly broken up, which is what you want. DO NOT use cooked beans–that will make your final falafel too mushy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. This provides a nice base so the bottoms of the falafel will get super crispy.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients for the falafel with the exception of the remaining olive oil. I have a strong machine, so I don’t need to do much in the way of chopping/pushing the ingredients around. If you have a smaller/weaker device, make sure you chop everything up a little bit before adding it. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to help get things moving. Try not to do this, though, because you want the falafel DRY so it’ll reach maximum crispiness in the oven.

Once everything is a uniform texture, get out a large ice cream scoop and form the falafel into balls. Use your hands to make them spherical, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You should wind up with 25-30 falafel.

Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small dish and, using a brush, gently top each ball with a coating of oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes (or until golden-brown on the bottom), then flip over and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating. Serve with a variety of yummy veggies and tahini sauce (instructions below).

FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:

To make the tahini sauce, simply combine the tahini with the lemon juice and salt, and slowly add water until a smooth, slightly-runny texture is achieved. Tahini is just weird, so be patient and keep stirring.


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What is one healthy dinner staple in your house? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Falafel

January 30, 2015 Print this page

These are a go-to dinner in my house. Simple, delicious, and filled with protein, these are absolutely delicious over a bed of fresh vegetables any time of day (or year!). Best of all, they’re baked, so you can spare yourself the mess of frying and still have a crispy final result. Adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe. (Mark Bittman = bae)

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min (plus soaking overnight)
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 45 min
Yield 25-30 falafel (about 6-8 servings)

FOR THE FALAFEL:

2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours

2 large handfuls (about 2 cups) of parsley, mint, basil, or spinach

1 small onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

The juice of 1 small lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

A pinch of cayenne (optional)

6 tablespoons of olive oil

Romaine lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and other raw vegetables, to serve

FOR THE SIMPLE TAHINI SAUCE:

1/2 cup of tahini (roasted sesame paste)

The juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)

A generous pinch of salt

Water

Directions

FOR THE FALAFEL:

Before you do anything, make sure you soak the chickpeas in water overnight. This helps get the beans soft enough to go in the food processor and get mostly broken up, which is what you want. DO NOT use cooked beans–that will make your final falafel too mushy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. This provides a nice base so the bottoms of the falafel will get super crispy.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients for the falafel with the exception of the remaining olive oil. I have a strong machine, so I don’t need to do much in the way of chopping/pushing the ingredients around. If you have a smaller/weaker device, make sure you chop everything up a little bit before adding it. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to help get things moving. Try not to do this, though, because you want the falafel DRY so it’ll reach maximum crispiness in the oven.

Once everything is a uniform texture, get out a large ice cream scoop and form the falafel into balls. Use your hands to make them spherical, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You should wind up with 25-30 falafel.

Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small dish and, using a brush, gently top each ball with a coating of oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes (or until golden-brown on the bottom), then flip over and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating. Serve with a variety of yummy veggies and tahini sauce (instructions below).

FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:

To make the tahini sauce, simply combine the tahini with the lemon juice and salt, and slowly add water until a smooth, slightly-runny texture is achieved. Tahini is just weird, so be patient and keep stirring.


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Baba Ghanoush

January 5, 2014 Print this page

All of the flavors of hummus, utilizing the wonderfulness of the eggplant. Serve as a dip with carrots and celery, a condiment with grilled meats (like Pesto-Marinated Lamb), or on its own, with a spoon. It’s that good.

Ingredients

Prep Time 20 min
Cooking Time 20 min
Total Time 40 min
Yield 4 servings as a side dish, 6 as a dip or condiment

2 large eggplants (about 2 lb)

1/3 cup of tahini

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of cumin

The juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of salt

Directions

With a small knife or a fork, make a bunch of small incisions in each eggplant.

Heat up a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat–dry. When the pan is hot, add the eggplants. Press them down slightly, then step away for five minutes. Don’t prod–just leave them be.

When that side is dark brown and flattened, rotate the eggplant 90 degrees and do the same with the next side. Do this with every side of the eggplant until the entire skin is nearly black in color and the eggplant is squishy when you press down on it, about 20 minutes.

Once cooked to perfection, transfer the eggplant to a separate plate and split each open to let some of the steam escape. Set aside for at least 15 minutes, or until warm to the touch.

When your eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. Put the remaining eggplant flesh in the bowl of a food processor with the tahini, olive oil, cumin, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Pulse until homogeneous, about 1 minute, then taste and add more salt/oil/cumin, if necessary.


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Middle-Eastern Eggplant

December 21, 2013 Print this page

Think there’s only Baba Ghanoush east of the Aegean? Think again! This Middle-Eastern Eggplant will wow your taste buds with vibrant pomegranate seeds, spicy fresh parsley, and sauteed pepper. An excellent compliment to Pesto Marinated Lamb.

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 40 min
Yield 4 servings

2 eggplants

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 medium red onion, sliced

1 large bell pepper, sliced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped

The juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup of olive oil

3 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

A big pinch of paprika

A big pinch of cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat a large skillet dry over medium-high heat until smoke begins to rise, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place the eggplants in the pan and char on all sides, flipping every few minutes to get an even blackness on each side. This will take about 20 minutes.

Remove the eggplant and heat the coconut oil in the same skillet until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Once cooked, transfer the veggies to a big bowl. Peel off the eggplant’s charred skin (you can throw it out or eat it if you’re really weird like me) and chop the remaining eggplant into 1/2-inch chunks. Dump into the bowl with the veggies and stir to toss.

To the bowl, add the walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, parsley, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir, taste, and add more seasoning, if necessary.

Serve at room temperature with Pesto Marinated Lamb.


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Pesto-Marinated Lamb

December 21, 2013 Print this page

Herby and salty with just a hint of spice, this is the perfect dish to grill on a weeknight and have leftovers for days to come. Serve with Middle-Eastern Eggplant for a truly authentic meal!

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr 10 min
Cooking Time 14 min
Total Time 2 hr 30 min
Yield 4-6 servings

2 cups of arugula (can be substituted with basil, mint, or a combination thereof)

1 large clove of garlic

1/4 cup of walnuts (can be substituted with hazelnuts, pistachios, or macadamia nuts)

1/3 cup of olive oil

A generous pinch of salt

1/3 cup of orange juice

2 lb of boneless leg of lamb

Directions

In the food processor, blend the arugula, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and salt until nearly smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour into a ziploc bag and add the orange juice, shaking vigorously to combine.

Add the lamb into the bag, seal the top, and squish and squeeze the bag to distribute the marinade around the meat. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

To cook,  heated the gas grill to 450 degrees. Put the lamb in the center (over direct heat) and cook for 7 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 7 minutes. Ideally, you want to get the lamb to 125 degrees for somewhere between rare and medium rare.

Cover the lamb with tinfoil for 10 minutes (it needs to relax), then thinly slice and serve with Middle Eastern Eggplant.


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