Having a Happy Chanukah (Falafel) Ball!

In Beans, Bread, Greek, Holiday, Jewish, Salad, Vegetables on December 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Don’t judge me.  I cannot find my menorah that my grandmother got me from Israel.  In fact, I think I go through this same panic every year after having moved back from college.  Yet, have I looked in my mother’s house?  Have I considered buying a new one?  Do I have time for either of those options?  I always seem to find the time to call my mother for her Latke recipe, but never remember to also ask about my missing menorah.  I guess you can can see where my priorities are.

In the spirit of this Holiday, I decided for the first night to cook something that can be found on both Jewish/Israeli and Greek menus: Falafel.  I think it fits the theme of the holiday very well!  I know it’s not traditionally served on Chanukah, but I suspect nobody would object to another deep-fried delicacy during this eight-day-miraculous-oil celebration.  Plus, there are only so many fried latkes and sufganiyot I can handle.

If you know me, and you read my blog, you might be surprised to find that falafel would warrant a wholesome, healthy blog post.  The key to enjoying this treat-in-a-pita-pocket is to make some slight modifications.  First, serving in whole wheat pita is a step in the right direction.  Second, filling it up with tons of fresh veggies adds bulk and nutrition.  However, saving the best for last, baking the falafel instead of deep frying will turn this drunken street food into a nutritiously delicious weeknight meal.  I actually found this recipe through Hunry Girl.  I’m not usually a fan of her recipes, because everything is substituted with chemical non-fat cheese, splenda, or other low-calorie/high chemical ingredients.  However, I really liked this recipe because it was all wholesome ingredients.  I really wish she would put out some more like it!

When I make this dish, I usually serve it with an Israeli salad – small diced tomato, cucumber, pepper, onion, parley, and lemon juice.  However, I decided to try something different this time.  At a lot of falafel joints, there is usually a salad bar, which will include the Israeli salad as well as pickled veggies, fried eggplant, and coleslaw.  I generally love to use the purple cabbage salad, because it is so bright, crunchy, and has the least amount of mayo or oil.  Here is my attempt to recreate that salad.

I cut the head of red cabbage into quarters, and then I cut out the core.

Then I shredded the cabbage, some carrots, and celery in a food processor using the grater blade.  The best invention ever.

I mixed the shreds in a bowl with some thinly sliced scallion.

Then, to make the salad more crispy/less soggy, I massaged in about 1 tsp salt.  Then I grabbed a handful at a time, squeezed out the liquid, and placed the dry cabbage in another bowl.  Look how much water came out!

To ensure no excess fluid was left behind, I topped the salad with a plate, and then pressed with a tea kettle.

After about an hour, I removed the pressing equipment, and there was no extra liquid.  I guess I did a diesel job squeezing with my hands.

Okay, so now on to the falafel.  The recipe called for 1 can (15.5 oz) of chickpeas.  I haven’t really been buying canned beans, so I had to actually soak and cook the chickpeas.

I added everything to the food processor, except the chickpeas.  This included a whole onion, about 1/4 cup each fresh cilantro and parsley, a squeeze of lemon, some cumin/parika/salt/pepper, baking powder (NOT SODA my friend MG – which is what most people have on hand, used in the fridge for freshness – powder is found in a tin can), and I subbed garbanzo/fava flour for whole wheat flour.

It turns into a paste (like pesto).

Then, I add the chickpeas, and just pulse a couple of times.  You want to be able to see some of the chick pea pieces still intact.

I transferred the batter into a bowl, and then divided the contents into 8 even sections.

Each section yields 2 balls.  Just a warning, you may want to take off your rings to roll the balls, as it can get pretty messy.  You basically grab a section, divide in half, and then press one of the halves between your hands until firm, and roll like you would a meatball.  Then you place the balls on a pre-sprayed nonstick baking tray.  Because it was so messy, I couldn’t take pictures of the process.  Here is what they all looked like before being cooked.

You top off the balls with another spray of olive oil spray.  Yes, it is still olive oil, but you don’t really use that much.  Much better than the deep fryer!  Baked at 375 for 15 minutes each side, they come out just a little bit browned, so don’t worry if you still see green when they’re finished.

What falafel dinner is complete with hummus and babaganouj?  I got this awesome hummus quartet from TJs, and each flavor is so good.

I had a lot of cabbage salad, some falafel, and a couple spoons of hummus and baba.

For Nick, I warmed a whole wheat pita, and cut it in half.  Each half I spread some roasted red pepper hummus and baba.

Then I added the falafel and cabbage.  So pretty.

I did the same for the second half, and served it on a plate to Nick.  He loved it, but also doused it with hot sauce and complained his mouth was on fire.

You can also see that this whole process makes your kitchen very messy!  All that batter falling all over the place.  Even though it’s messy, it’s really fun to make and even funner to eat.  Hopefully you cook this for someone on cleaning duty so you can have your falafel and eat it, too:)

What’s your favorite messy food to eat?

  1. Looks delicous… I wish mine had come out looking like that…..

  2. […] To thicken up the soup, I added some defrosted chickpeas (leftover from when I made falafel). […]

  3. […] that night was my baked falafel with Israel salad, which was also lunch for […]

  4. […] excess liquid, and transferred the dry batches to another bowl.  This is a similar process to the Israeli style slaw I made for Falafel.  Once I got out as much liquid as I could, I placed a plate over the cabbage and weighed it down […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: