Friday, 27 April 2012

Third Time Lucky

The amount of times I've tried and failed to make falafel is shocking. Well twice, maybe that's not so shocking. Whats more shocking is probably the fact that I got over the failure and tried again. Twice. For something that sounds reasonably simple (blend ingredients, then bake or fry) it's actually pretty damn tricky.

Maybe it's because I set the bar so high. The falafel in Dun Laoghaire Sunday Market at the peoples park is pretty much my idea of the perfect falafel. Garlicy, moisty, fresh and crispy on the outside. Unfortunately this dreamy Lebanese goodness is created through the not so heavenly method of deep frying. Hence my falafel quest has wandered down the path of oven baking. Until I discovered the wonder of the oil sprayer! ;)

This stuff is great. I went on an anti-oil rampage after doing work experience in the Happy Pear where I was informed that even my beloved coconut oil *gasp* was not as healthy as I had thought it was. However no oil means you've got to bake or steam everything which can be very time consuming because I have a range oven which takes a year and a day to heat up. It's also very limiting. I kinda struggled through it for a while, eating my pancakes half burnt and in a sticky mess with pieces of frying pan stuck to it. Until this stuff saved me. It's probably still hydrogenated crap but at least its one tiny spray of hydrogenated crap instead of 10 inches of dangerously unstable burn-your-face-off frying oil. I would say that it's by far the lesser of two evils.

So anyway, back to my perfect falafel. It's got to be extremely garlicy (I'm a garlic fiend, my aftershave obsessed brother says I smell like it sometimes :S), freshly herby (preferably parsley from the garden but I was all out so I used herbs de provence) and moist with a loose crumb. 
Unlike my previous concoctions that involved flour and eggs to bind them and were blended to a smooth paste before being baked for ages these falafels have a very short and sweet ingredients list. They're also much quicker to cook because they just need 10 minutes of the pan.
Sometimes simple is best. I'm a culprit for overcomplicating things.
My previous falafels were dry, borderline rock solid, pasty tasting lumps. Yuck. Personally I even find shop falafel too dry for my taste, although the flavour is usually pretty good.

I advise you season this to your own taste. Personally I have a very salty taste when it comes to dinner. I think it might be because I usually run before dinner and sweat out all my salts. Thats what I tell myself anyway! You do need salt in your diet anyway. Just not too much of it. The main source of salt in peoples diets is processed foods but if you don't eat them you shouldn't worry about a little salt in your dinner. Especially if you make sure your hydrated and are concious of the amount you use. And make sure you use good quality salts like sea salt or organic tamari. (I am a soya sauce addict).

The trick to this falafel is to pulse it until it a coarse texture rather than blending it until smooth. It's quiet crumbly so you really need to push it down on the pan to hold it together. I made it into one big long falafel burger rather than small falafels because I thought it would hold together better in the wrap.

Speaking of the wrap, I seem to have been neglecting all the other wonderful components of this meal by making the falafel the star of the show. I guess I was just so excited by finally getting the falafel right. The roast red pepper hummus compliments the falafel beautifully with it's sweet yet savoury and nutty flavour. The homemade buckwheat, spelt wrap does a great job of holding the show together. This wrap takes 5 minutes to make. It's a hundred times tastier than conventional, dry, white wheat wraps and doesn't have any of that processed junk in it. I couldn't recommend it more. It also makes a fantastic breakfast dressed up as a pancake.
I served it all with a humongous side salad dressed in balsamic vinegar and mustard. Nom nom nom. Crunch.

I haven't cooked all week because I basically collapsed into bed every day after work experience in the hospital. My brain was going crazy brainstorming stuff it didn't have time to make. I just love when you get a recipe out of your system and into your mouth and onto your blog instead! It's amazingly gratifying.

Herby Falafel with

 Roasted Red Pepper and Paprika Hummus

 in a Buckwheat, Spelt Wrap.

Serves: 1 HUNGRY teenager after her run.

Prep and cooking time: 30-40 minutes (depends how fast you are ;D) 

  • 100g chick peas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • teaspoon herbs de provence
  • teaspoon flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • salt to taste
  •  120g chick peas
  • 1 pointed red pepper
  •  1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • tablespoon tahini
  • tablespoon tamari
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 3 tablespoons buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • oil spray

1. Dice the pepper and bang it in the oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes until roasted.

2. Meanwhile pulse the first set of ingredients together until it forms a coarse mixture that holds when you form it into shapes. This is your falafel mix.

3. Mix together the third set of ingredients. Heat a large frying pan and spray with oil spray. Spread the wrap mixture across the pan with a spoon until it covers the pan. Let it cook at a low heat for 3-4 minutes. The mixture will stick to the pan a bit until its cooked but onto it's done it with turn easily. Cook on the other side til light brown. Set aside the wrap.

4.  Form your falafel mix into desired shape and frying on a pan with a little oil spray for 5 minutes on each side or until brown and crispy.

5. Your peppers should be ready now. Remove from the oven and blend together with the second set of ingredients until it forms a smooth paste.

6. Spread your hummus onto your wrap and place your falafel ontop. Now you're ready to rock and roll! ;)

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