Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two-fer: Veggie Burgers and Falafel

So far this month. I've already made two recipes that qualify for this month's challenge. Go Me! In the past, I've tried multiple veggie/bean burger and falafel recipes that seemed promising and looked great, but in the end they had a mushy interior that was really unappetizing. Both of these recipe seemed to have fixed that problem. I actually processed the ingredients for both of these meals in the food processor the night before and just shaped and cooked them the next evening. It made for 2 pretty quick weeknight dinners.

I served these veggie burgers with baked onion rings. The secret for the firm texture in the veggie burgers seems to be the wheat bulgur. This recipe also seems to be pretty adaptable. I tried the same recipe this week and swapped out the tahini for Dijon mustard--still tasty! The firmness even held up for the patties that were left over. I varied the onion ring recipe using all coarse bread crumbs from left over ciabatta, mostly because I couldn't justify buying a whole box of corn flakes just for this recipe. The result was breading that wouldn't stick well to the onions, but what did stick was very crisp and they tasted good anyway.

I was inspired to take another stab at falafel when I saw this Cook's Illustrated recipe. It calls for dried chickpeas soaked boiling! Again, this is the key to a drier, firmer texture and falafel that don't fall apart when they hit the oil. The original recipe says that this makes 20 (at 1 Tbsp per falafel), but I doubled this and still only came up with about 25-26. I guess my "tablespoons" were a little off.

Tahini Sauce
  • 1/2cup tahini
  • 1/4cup juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2cup water
  • 2medium garlic cloves (about 2 teaspoons), minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Salt
  • 6ounces dried chickpeas (1 cup), rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight in water to cover by an inch
  • 5 scallions , chopped coarse
  • 1/2cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3medium garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon), minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1/2teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2quarts vegetable oil , for frying


1. For the tahini sauce: Process all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds. Season with salt to taste and set aside. (The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature and stir to combine before serving.)

2. For the falafel: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Drain the chickpeas, discarding the soaking liquid. Process all of the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Form the mixture into 1 tablespoon-sized disks, about 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch wide, and arrange on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (The falafel can be refrigerated at this point for up to 2 hours.)

3. Heat the oil in a 5-quart large Dutch over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. (Use an instant-read thermometer that registers high temperatures or clip a candy/deep-fat thermometer onto the side of the pan.) Fry half of the falafel, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain 375 degrees, until deep brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon or wire spider and keep warm in the oven. Return the oil to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining falafel. Serve immediately with the sauce.

Falafel shaped and laid out on wax paper

I can't bring myself to deep fry anything, so I pan fried them. The areas in contact with the pan still got a great crust.

I served them in pita with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and the tahini sauce. I was a little intrigued by some of the ingredients. Cilantro? Cinnamon? Cumin? None of the other recipes I've tried called for those things, but these also tasted better than any of those others, too. These were awesome, better than any I've found so far in restaurants!

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