I remember the first time I ever ate falafel. It was freshman orientation when I attended University of RI. An upperclassman took each orientation group for a tour of the campus and one of the obligatory stops was a shopping center, right next to- but not technically on- campus. As we were herded passed the coffee shops and pharmacy, we came upon Falafel Dave. Falafel Dave was standing outside his little stand with an enormous grin from ear to ear saying, “Come in, have a sample of my falafel.” We freshman dutifully lined up to receive our sample of falafel dipped in hummus.
“What is it?” people mumbled.
“It’s good,” said the upperclassman.
“Is it vegetarian?” I asked. At the time I was loosely vegetarian.
“And it’s good?” I asked. I had had very little vegetarian food that most people would say tasted good. I didn’t like veggie burgers or anything in that whole classification of what I think of as vegetarian food- lentils, beans, stuff that comes out as a brown mush. That falafel changed my mind about classic vegetarian foods. Well maybe not entirely. I still don’t like lentils or brown mush. However, I did learn that if you look outside American vegetarian cuisine there’s all kinds of good things you can enjoy.
Another favorite of mine, that goes hand-in-hand with falafel is hummus. No party is complete without hummus. It goes great with veggies, it goes well on chips or bread. For years I’ve been buying tubs of hummus in the grocery store, never knowing that hummus is one of the easiest things in the world to make. You just dump all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. I started making
hummus a couple of months ago and now I’m amazed that I ever bought it in the store. And the great thing about making it yourself is you can balance the flavors yourself. I personally like lots of garlic. I’ve been buying my chickpeas in cans and using those for my hummus. While I do reuse the cans, in the interest in cutting down on waste (and cost) this last time I bought dried chickpeas.
Since I had all these chickpeas we decided to have a Mediterranean night, with falafel and hummus. I was going to try to make pita bread as well but the recipes we a bit daunting based on what time I started prepping for dinner. So instead I whipped up some flour tortillas which worked as a nice flat bread substitute. We topped it with some slices of tomatoes and cucumber (the cucumber came from our garden). It was so filling we had leftovers for the next day.
Falafel and Hummus
For this I used half a 14 oz bag of dried chick peas. I intended to soak them over night but forgot. So instead I boiled 4 cups of water and added the chick peas. I let them boil for about 2 minutes then set them aside covered to soak for one hour. Then I drained the remaining water off (into my garden) and used half the chickpeas for the hummus and half for the falafel.
Hummus -yields about 8 oz
2 cups of chickpeas (you can 1 16 oz can as well)
1/4- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 TBSP Tahini (you can skip this if you don’t have it- but it adds to the flavor)
2 cloves of garlic
salt to taste
Add all ingredients to your food processor, blender or I used an immersion blender and blend until smooth.
Falafel- makes 4 falafel balls
2 cups of chickpeas (canned chickpeas may result in soggy falafel)
1/2 small onion
a few sprigs if parsely
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 TBSP Flour
Add all ingredients into your food processor (again I used my immersion blender, not the right tool) and blend until a coarse crumbly consistency.
Refrigerate for one hour.
Add 1/2 inch to 1 inch of oil to a cast iron skillet and heat up the oil.
Form small balls using about 2 TBSP of the falafel mixture.
Add the falafal to the pan and fry for about 3-5 minutes per side.
Remove from oil and drain.
Serve with pita or flat bread, hummus, tomatoes, or whatever you fancy.