My husband is not vegan. I am. This works out just fine, because he is an "at-home" vegan, meaning that when he is home, he eats the foods that I eat, because we currently purchase almost exclusively vegan foods for our home. I say "almost," because he did bring home yogurt covered raisins on our last trip, but he ate most the bag on the car ride home. Typical.
But even before I had switched over to a vegetarian diet, he was eating a vegan lunch almost daily without meaning to. When he worked in Philadelphia, he was addicted to pita's brimming with falafel and hummus at Mama's and would eat lunch there almost every day. When I would ride into the city to see the art museum while he was at work, we would go here every time.
The other day, Mike said to me, "it's too bad you are working tonight, or we could ride into the city and have falafel." Yes, he like the falafel that much. So when I agreed to make a batch before going to work (having never tried before), I was in for a pretty big challenge. I was going to be compared to the world's best falafel.
It's a pretty simple concept. Put some chickpeas in a blender with a bit of diced onion and chopped fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. How hard can it be? The recipe I first found called for soaking a piece of white bread (wonderbread alert), squeezing it out, and kneading it into my falafel balls. I decided that sounds gross. So I dumped in panko instead. I figured that if it makes tempura so delicious, it must make for great falafel, right?
So what went wrong? When I tried to deep fry the first little balls, they just burst into tiny little pieces and became nasty oil soaked crumbs of burn-y chickpeas. YUK! Time to readjust my plan. . .
I just put a little bit of oil in a frying pan on med-high heat and threw a few little falafel balls in once it had the chance to heat up properly. I rolled them around until they were very nicely browned on all sides. Then I just put a drop of water in the pan and lidded it to steam the insides a bit as well. Deep fried falafel? Nope! So they were a little better for us, too, I guess.
What goes better with falafel than cucumber salad with diced tomatoes and pitas? Well, it's easy to marinade cukes. Chop one up, and soak it in a mixture of 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of sugar. . . YUMMY! Feel free to add in some red onion and diced tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes) for color (and flavor). I opted to make a tomato puree (since I was thinking I might pack some pasta for tomorrow's lunch) with two cloves of garlic, a can of peeled plum tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous bunch of parsley.
I had some whole wheat mini pitas from the bakery. I rubbed a touch of olive oil on them and sprinkled a touch of salt before lightly toasting. One pillowed up perfectly.
I know my husband has never had as pretty a falafel plate, but what did he have to say about the taste? He told me it was awesome. And he's the type of husband who will happily make a face and laugh at my mistakes in the kitchen, even if he begrudgingly chokes them down with me. So if he told me it was awesome. . . YOU should try it, too!