This past weekend, Gennaro and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary in Ann Arbor, MI, where we were married. While we were there, we tried to not read anything into the fact that the original Borders Bookstore, a staple throughout both of our college experiences in Ann Arbor, was in total liquidation mode. Everything in the store was going at 40-60% off prices (I did some research, though, and it turns out Borders was opened in 1971, so if it is a sign, at least Gennaro and I have about 40 years ahead of us). Anyways, I managed to put the sadness and nostalgia on hold for about 40 minutes while I switched gears and channeled the inner bargain shopper in me. Naturally, I pushed my way to the territory with which I’m most familiar: the cookbook section (note to anyone visiting a megastore bookstore with me: if I’m lost, you will undoubtedly find me in the cookbook aisle).
While the cookbook area was largely picked over, I managed to snag a few new ones to add to my growing collection. The store’s last copy of the Skinny Bitch everyday cookbook — nestled among the store’s diet and weight loss offerings — was a steal at $10. But the ultimate steal of the day came in the form of a bargain-section cookbook called Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide. Neither vegan nor gluten-free, this cookbook managed to grab my attention by virtue of its $5 original price tag, which came to about $2.50 with the store-wide discount. I figured even a minimal amount of gluten-free or vegan recipes could be justified at that cost.
Less than a week has passed since my purchase, and I’ve already flagged several recipes that I’m dying to try. Between the Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern selections in the book, there’s plenty to choose from for the gluten-free/vegan crowd. This falafel recipe the first to be inspired by my new book (of course, I can never follow a recipe exactly without adding my own twist). With dried chickpeas instead of canned, the chickpea flavor is slightly more pronounced than with the homemade falafel recipes I’m used to. My twist? I baked the falafel instead of deep frying it, which still yielded a satisfying crisp-on-the-outside, slightly soft on the inside result. Then I played with the proportions of herbs and spices, which I feel is an obligatory step for any at-home falafel maker (who doesn’t want homemade meals to be customized to their taste?)
I served this with some gluten-free lavash and a kale salad made with red onions, cucumbers and tahini dressing. It would be great in a wrap, served alongside rice and hummus as a main course, or served with tahini dressing for dipping as a side.
Yield: approximately 14 falafels
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked 18-24 hours, drained well
½ bunch fresh curly parsley
½ bunch fresh cilantro
½ large yellow/white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Olive oil for brushing
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor fitted with a sharp blade (except olive oil). Process until smooth and green in color. The end result might feel a bit wet to work with, but it should still hold together when gently formed into patties.
2. Scoop with an ice cream scoop or large spoon into heaping rounds, roll with hands, then lay flat on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet. Very gently flatten with palm. When all of the patties are formed, gently brush tops with olive oil.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping falafels after approximately 10 minutes (or until firm enough to slip and browned on the bottom), cooking until the tops of the second side are golden brown.