Sunday, May 3, 2009

Baked Falafel

Since I'm a student, two things are important: eating inexpensively and meals that go together quickly. One solution is of course, fast food in the traditional sense: burgers or tacos, burritos or pizza, from some greasespot.

It's tempting sometimes, especially when I spend most of the day on campus and when I'm done with the day, the dog still needs to be walked, MY students have a million questions they've emailed me to ask, all of which are naturally very pressing, and then my coursework to complete.

Once or twice a week, as a way of destressing and making sure that I don't become too involved in just school work, I either host dinner or go to at one of my friends' houses. The great part about this is that it's cheaper for all of us. The unwritten code is to bring something, anything, to help make the meal and if you don't know what to bring, ask.

The other day, I was craving falafel. The falafel I ate growing up were pan-friend green disks. I love them, but don't have the time or equipment to make those falafel, which involve dried chick peas (garbanzo beans) and a mega food processor. I wanted something easier. I had a baked falafel recipe I'd tried before that I wasn't thrilled with and I'd recently seen a baked falafel recipe come across from another blog which seemed akin to the labor-intensive ones I ate growing up.

This recipe combines the flavors of the second recipe with the simplicty of the first. The falafel turned out well. The texture is fairly smooth, unlike some of the grainier ones you get from restaurants or when you make falafel from a mix and if you have cilantro (I didn't have much), add about 2 more tablespoons, chopped.

Baked Falafel

1 medium potato, chopped
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 generous tablespoon tahini
½ tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon sea salt (fine)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon paprika
Black pepper, to taste (about ¼-1/2 teaspoon)

Flour or bread crumbs, if needed

Preheat oven to 375ยบ F. In a small saucepan, over high heat, boil the chopped potato in water until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.

Place all the ingredients, including the potato, in a medium to large bowl and mash well a pastry cutter, potato masher, or a fork, until only slightly chunky. The falafel dough should be slightly sticky (this will depend on the type of potato you used). If it is very sticky, stir in flour or fine bread crumbs 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is only tacky.

One at a time, take spoonfuls of the mixture in your hands and form 15-20 balls (each about the size of a ping pong ball) and place them gently on a greased cookie sheet, pressing down lightly to form a thick disc.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the falafel over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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