falafel

Ah youth. Specifically college aged youth. The kind where you are starving at 2 in the morning when the bars close. You have some damp and severely crumpled singles in a pocket somewhere and spy a falafel purveyor. You eat the falafel in seconds, picking bits of foil out of your teeth as you stumble home.

Uh, at least that was MY experience, living it up in the Westcott Nation at SU. I can't remember the falafel shop, but I can promise I frequented it regularly, since I lived a couple of blocks away.

Mr. Bitchy, currently working near the U of MD, reports that there exists a small chain of falafel shops that only sells falafels and feature an amazing topping bar. Duh, why didn't we think of that? He also reports that some college students patronizing the joint are serious pigs at the well appointed topping bar and need to learn how to be less piggy and gross. Mrs. Bitchyweekdayvegan is a germaphobe and will not go NEAR a cold self serve food area. Nope.

As a person eating vegan I find falafel is available as a menu option at some local pizza shops when I would otherwise have nothing to order but a salad. I'm grateful for the option, but this recipe is better.

They are shockingly easy to whip up, provided you have the good sense to soak some garbanzo beans (and cashews, see tzatziki recipe) ahead of time. I like to do it when I make hummus, soaking enough for both. Unlike the hummus recipe, these chickpeas, once soaked, are ground raw. They cook nicely in the oil, so don't get up in my grill about that.

Tzatziki sauce is a must, and below I've included an excellent recipe I've tweaked to our family's liking.

Falafel:

2 cups garbanzo beans, soaked overnight

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

3/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. baking soda (optional, but helps keep falafel airy)

2 Tbsp. flour (any kind will work)

Buzz everything together in a blender or food processor. It should not be smooth like hummus, leave it somewhat chunky. Chill for an hour or so to meld spices and firm up a bit. Form into balls or patties. Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a frying pan to medium or so on the stovetop. Fry patties/balls until golden. Drain and serve with your favorite toppings. These freeze like a charm. I haven't tried baking these yet, but if I were to attempt it, I would roll them in panko first, spritz with olive oil, and bake at 300 for, like, 20 minutes? I think? I'll update this post if I ever do.

Tzatziki:

1 cup cashew nuts soaked in water overnight, drained

4 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp tahini

3-4 Tbsp hummus

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

2 tsp. fresh mint, chopped (optional-I don't care for it but you go right ahead!)

Dump everything into your blender or food processor except the water. Slowly add the water while everything buzzes until you reach desired consistency. Serve immediately. If you save some for leftovers, give it a good stir because it settles.