Remember that TBS show Dinner and a Movie? The premise was that the hosts would cook dinner while showing a movie, a pretty self-explanatory title. The dishes were usually named to match the theme of the movie.
To get to the point, the only episode I truly remember watching was the one where they played Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; the hosts cooked “I can’t go to school; I FALAFEL!” I remember thinking, “What the heck is that?!” It wasn’t a question that was answered until college (yes, not a lot of falafel in Tennessee), but I was happy when I finally had it! Falafel is a delicious chickpea fritter (traditionally fried), seasoned with parsley or cilantro, garlic and spices. It can be the base for a pita sandwich or eaten on its own with tahini (a sauce made from sesame seeds) or tzatziki, a creamy yogurt sauce with cucumber, garlic, lemon and herbs.
I love falafel, but I always thought, “Oh, that’s something I can’t make at home. It’s soooo complicated.” I said this lazily. I was eating falafel, not even knowing how it’s made. Turns out, it’s not complicated at all.
Mark Bittman has a very straightforward recipe for a healthier, baked falafel. This stuff is great–tons of flavor and literally no fat other than the olive oil you spritz on (and the tahini).
I followed this recipe pretty much exactly, but I heeded his advice (which is not in the link above, but an anecdote in his book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian): I tripled the garlic (if you know me, that’s unsurprising) and I added in three tablespoons of tahini to the mixture (which he offered as a variation for a more seasme-flavored falafel).
I had a delicious meal: falafel with tahini, hummus and pita, and a Greek Salad.
Here are some pictures of what your journey with falafel making will resemble because you will want to make this!
Don’t skimp on soaking the beans. Soaking for 24 hours will make your falafel moist, and it’ll hold together better.
Since it was my first time making falafel, I wasn’t confident it would hold together. And to be honest, it didn’t feel like it was going to! But it does! Mr. Bittman says to keep the mixture as dry as possible…and somehow it forms shape! It’s a miracle!
Dinner is served, yo.
If you’ve never had falafel, now is this time to try it! What an easy New Year’s Resolution–try falafel. 2015 is the year!