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Friday, December 1, 2017

Falafel for Breakfast, Mealtime or Appetizer

My First Falafel
My First Falafel
Not too long ago (July, to be exact), I made Falafel for the first time. I made them again, very shortly after, because my husband and I just truly loved them that much. Then shortly after that, there was a recipe in my September Food and Wine Magazine that was called Baked Kabocha Falafel. While this recipe didn't even have real chickpeas in it, but only chickpea flour, I really didn't want to go there, but the idea of adding squash to the falafel mixture intrigued me. 

To be clear, I have been pan-frying the falafel, made into small patties. I intensely dislike deep frying anything and avoid it at all cost. Not because of the frying, but just because of all that oil, and what to do with it afterwards, since it isn't likely to be used again in the next 5 years or so... My original intent was to bake the falafel, but ended up just pan-frying them all, and they taste so good, I haven't wanted to mess with the status quo. So pan-frying it continues to be.

I sat down with the original recipe I had created and thought about just how much squash should be added, or how much chickpea mixture to remove, in order to make the recipe taste good. I came up with amounts I felt would work and got to it. I still wanted to soak the chickpeas for 24 hours prior to making the mixture, so those went to soak. Meanwhile, I didn't have Kabocha squash but did have a Butternut Squash waiting to be used. I baked the butternut squash, in order to introduce the least additional liquid to the falafel recipe, and then once baked, I measured out 12 ounces of squash. To make the mixture, I did exactly the same thing as I had done previously: everything into the food processor and processing until well broken down, scraping the bowl often, to evenly distribute the ingredients. 

Butternut Squash Falafel
Butternut Squash Falafel
Lo and behold, I liked this mixture even better than the original one! 

One, it was easier to work with and form into patties. And two, I think it tasted just a tiny bit better. I grant you, the taste was not hugely different, but the ease of forming the patties really made these worthwhile. It seemed the pureed squash almost acted as a binder of sorts. I used no flour, no chickpea flour and no other binding agent. And these come out so great! 

So, now I have a Wine Tasting that I have to create foods for coming up on December 20th. Yikes! Nearly Christmas! And in thinking about what to make for this wine tasting, I had already come up with the Smoky Andouille & Corn Pouches, which pair excellently with a Malbec. And then I came up with the Mock Wellington Bites, which will pair well with a Cabernet Sauvignon, or other strong Red. Aside from those two, I am making two appetizers I have made before, and which are so flavorful: Hoisin Pork with Blackberry Chutney which pair with Pinot Noir and Spanakopita Cups that pair excellently with the austere features of a good Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine with that tartness level.

Butternut Squash Falafel as Appetizers
Butternut Squash Falafel as Appetizers
I decided to make these Squash Falafel, along with some mini Pita Breads, using a little Hummus and Turnip Pickle to decorate them. As it happened, the mini pita breads (I made 40 little breads rather than the 8 a recipe called for) worked perfectly. Cutting each one in half, each half held one little falafel patty perfectly. They are so darned cute and so amazingly tasty. I tasted them with a Chardonnay, which was perfect, but would love to try them with either an AlbariƱo or Torrontes, or even a Pinto Gris to see how those might pair. But for now, I know that they pair with Chardonnay, and that's a great start.

These do not need to be used as an appetizer portion, not by any means. Since I do need appetizer portions for the Wine Tasting, mini pitas were a great holder, but if you aren't up to making all these little pita breads, consider cutting large, soft flatbreads into small squares (or even rounds) and spreading with a little hummus or tahini and yogurt spread and setting one little falafel on top, then garnish with something like these Turnip Pickles or with olives or other condiment.

As I write this and thought about it, I realize I never have placed my hummus recipe in this blog, so I will rectify that oversight here, also.

Butternut Squash Falafel


Butternut Squash Falafel
Butternut Squash Falafel as Appetizers
Makes about 38 (1½-inch diameter) falafel patties

1 cup (6.55 oz / 186 g) dried chickpeas
12 ounces baked butternut squash
½ medium onion, in chunks
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the dry chickpeas into a large bowl and cover with water to rise above the chickpeas by at least 3 inches. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid of some kind and soak for 24 hours. Bake the squash in a 400 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until tender all the way through when pierced with a knife. Allow to cool, then remove skin, scoop out seeds and weigh out 12 ounces of the squash. Use any remainder for another purpose.

Drain the chickpeas, discarding the water. Place the chickpeas into a food processor along with all the remaining ingredients. If your food processor is small, divide the ingredients into two or even three batches. Process each batch until the chickpeas are like coarse meal. There should be no large lumps of chickpea left. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl often. 

Place the mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight. Use a small scoop of about a tablespoon of the mixture and form a small, round patty about ⅜ to ¼-inch thick and about 1½-inches in diameter. Have a skillet heated to medium or medium low. Use oil as needed (I used olive oil) to keep the patties from sticking to the pan and fry them on each side until they hold their shape and are deeply golden browned on both sides. Fry them in batches, as needed, removing to paper toweling to drain.


Hummus
Hummus

Hummus


Makes about 2 cups 

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste)
3 - 4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, to taste
⅓ to ½ cup good quality olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Drain the chickpeas and run them under water for at least a couple of minutes. Drain well and place in food processor along with the garlic (mince first or it could end up in large chunks), tahini and about 2 tablespoons of the lemon/lime juice. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Gradually drizzle in the olive oil, until incorporated. Taste for salt and pepper, and add salt and more lemon juice if needed, to taste.

NOTES: To make this into red pepper hummus, drain a tiny jar of roasted red bell pepper with the initial ingredients. Substitute the red bell pepper for a few artichoke hearts, if desired, or with spinach.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

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