Falafel, to me, has always meant “strange Greek food that nobody ever buys at fairs and festivals.” But I suppose when turkey legs and Polish sausages are no longer a viable option, there aren’t all that many meals you can get at fairs, so I might have little choice in the future. How I will miss barbarically eating a turkey leg at a Renaissance fair! But even during the Renaissance, people like Leonardo da Vinci were vegetarian, so just because I go to the fair doesn’t mean I can eat like Attila the Hun for the day. And before your anachronism sensor goes haywire, I know Attila wasn’t from the Renaissance. He’s just the first historical figure that came to mind when I thought about someone brutally devouring a turkey leg.
Hmm, strange start to this post. Luckily there’s not too much to say about falafel. After eating it, I see why fair-goers don’t buy it. I mean it wasn’t fal-awful, just sort of dry and uninteresting. The yogurt-tahini sauce helped with that a bit. What would have really made it much better is if I had put the impromtu cucumber-tomato salad into the pita, but for some reason I didn’t think of that until both pita and salad were in the depths of my stomach.
Nutritionally, the meal was excellent. Complex carbs from the whole grains, more good carbs and protein from the beans, digestion help and superfood-power from the yogurt, healthy fat in the tahini and canola oil. And some nice fresh veggies in the side salad. I know that falafel is a staple of some vegetarian diets, and from a health standpoint, I can see why. But there must be something more to falafel than is evident from my experience with these.
Erin and I can’t give this meal any more than 2 cows out of 5 and keep a clear conscience. But note that I say this meal, not necessarily falafel in general. Partly it might have been my fault. I forgot to add oil to the patty mixture, attempting to make up for it by rubbing the outsides of the patties instead. And our pitas seemed a little dry to begin with, so lightly toasting them on the grill only made them drier. This all added up to a really dry dinner. I do think that there is some potential for correctly-made falafel, but I’ll probably need to have a good one from the old county fair before I get the itch to make it again.
Check back over the weekend, I’m going to be making (and posting) a recipe that I’m really excited about. Black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, submitted to me on Twitter by @micaindetroit. Halloween-colored Mexican food, how can you beat it?
Falafel with Tahini Mint Sauce Recipe
- 2 14-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
- 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 scallions
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 6 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1 Tbsp tahini paste
- 4 whole wheat pitas
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- salt and pepper
In a food processor, pulse the garbanzo beans, bread crumbs, celery, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, canola oil until smooth, adding salt to taste. Form 8 small patties from the mixture and refrigerate 15 minutes.
While the patties are chilling, preheat grill to high. Combine the tahini, yogurt, and mint in a bowl. Mix well, season with salt and pepper.
Grill the patties for about 3 minutes per side until golden and marked. Lightly rub oil on the pitas and heat them on the grill, they only take a minute or two to get warm so don’t burn them! Spread yogurt sauce on patties or in pita, and stuff each pita with 2 patties.