Adventures in Culinary Assembly Or, Baked Falafel

I don’t get down with meat substitutes.

I know some vegetarians and vegans go bananas for tofu, seitan and soy but I’ve never been a fan. Why would I want something that emulates the texture and taste of meat when I could have more vegetables?

More veggies are always a good thing. Except for lima beans. Those caulky little jerks can just bugger on off out of here.

That being the case, one of the greatest pleasures of my life is the meze platter. A cavalcade of delicious food with nary a tofu cube in sight. It’s a beautiful thing.

And my favorite part of the meze platter*? The falafel. Crunchy little balls of garlicky perfection. I could eat them every day and never get bored.

Unfortunately, neither my wallet nor my attempts at a somewhat healthy lifestyle would appreciate that (stupid reality. Always infringing on my happiness), so I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own falafel.

I decided to riff on two recipes – one from Chow Vegan and one from Taste for Adventure.

As always, the most important part of any culinary adventure is the music you listen to and today — the playlist included the Ratatouille soundtrack, Drake and Paula Abdul…which is totally topical considering Abdul’s Syrian heritage.

Let’s get cooking!

You will need:

1 15oz can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of crushed pepper flake
A small bunch of parsley – I used about 12-15 stalks.
3 cloves of garlic

Drain your chickpeas. Dump them into a bowl and give them a good smashing.

Use real life situations to inspire you:

“They canceled Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip!”
“There’s no TV show about Billy and Tim Riggins building a house where Tim doesn’t wear a shirt a lot!”
Bread makes you fat!

If you are a legit grown up and actually own a food processor, feel free to eliminate the hand-smashing step. However, if you have anger issues – smash on with your bad self.

Once your chickpeas have been properly pulverized,  you’re going to start adding your seasonings.

Three cloves of garlic minced up as fine as you can manage

Now, add your parsley.

I realized that I had no idea what to do with parsley, so I called Paps which lead to the following conversation:

Paps: Hello?
Me: What do I do with parsley?
Paps: What?
Me: What do I do with parsley?
Paps: What? I can’t hear you.
Me: What. Do. I. Do. With. Parsley?
Paps: Parsley? What are you talking about?
Me: Give the phone to Mom! You give the phone to Mom!

Once the yelling was over, I learned that you tear the parsley into small pieces and in doing so, everything will smell delicious (also, if I have kids like me – I’m going to eat my own face).

Add your ground cumin to the chickpea smoosh.

Add lemon juice (I only had lime, so I used that instead), olive oil, flour and chili pepper flake.

Give it a good mixing.

Once seasoned, refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to mingle and the mixture to firm up a little.

And yes, I do realize that I have an inordinate amount of liquids in my fridge.

After an hour – take the mixture out of the fridge, form the chickpea smoosh into little patties and place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes on each side.

While they bake, it’s time to prep the rest of your meal. I decided to make a falafel chopped salad, so I grabbed some lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, black olives and goat cheese, chopped everything up and dumped it in a bowl.

Then, because carbs are delicious, grab a piece of naan bread.

If you do not have an awesome mom who sends you care packages filled with the stuff, you can grab some at pretty much any middle eastern/Indian market or you can use pita. Brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toast that sucker up.

Then, arrange the toast points like so

Or, y’know, just shove it directly into your face because it’s hot, delicious naan and that’s what you do.

When the timer goes ding, take your falafel out of the oven and place directly onto your salad.

Drizzle a little olive oil or Greek vinaigrette, if you wish. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy.

Final verdict — It does not taste like street food and it doesn’t taste like the falafel from my favorite Middle Eastern joint BUT, it is really damn good. A little dry, maybe but garlicky, spicy and a great addition to the salad. Especially when you get a piece with a big blob of goat cheese on it.

I really hope you make this and if you do, please let me know what you thought.

(All pictures courtesy of my sweet new camera, Fudge Pop. Yes, I named my camera Fudge Pop. Thanks Mom and Paps!)

* And the tabbouleh. And the fattoush. And the hummus provided it’s that fresh, really creamy kind served with a drizzle of olive oil on top. Oh! And grilled halloumi. Have you ever had grilled halloumi? You’ll pass out, it’s so good.

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