I might be a blogger, but the truth is, I don’t read many blogs. Sure I frequent them, and I drool over the mouthwatering dishes, but actually read them? Not really. Between work and family, there’s not that much time to get acquainted with the lives of fellow food bloggers. It’s a shame, really, but there’s only so much time in the day!
Confession #2: I don’t really cook things from other blogs either. Sure I pin the recipes, bookmark them, screenshot them, and even email some to myself. But I never quite get around to making them. Yeh.
There’s one exception though and that is the JewHungry blog. Not only do I read Whitney’s posts, I actually make some of her food. Like this, and these, and of course this! Whitney is a girl after my own heart. She loves sriracha and anything Middle Eastern, and her recipes are no fuss. She’s also a mom, a social worker/school counselor and a southern girl with lots to say! I love to read her articles on motherhood (and anything, really!) for The Huffington Post. Whitney’s writing is as good as her food, but today, I’m filling in! I’m happy to do a guest post for Whit, and since she’s pregnant, I wanted to make one of her favorites – shakshuka!
I’m pretty particular about how I like my falafel. And if you’re a true falafel lover, then I’m sure you are too! My first falafel rule of thumb is: it’s got to be GREEN!
Green falafel means it’s got a lot of herbs mixed in, which make them incredibly moist. If they’re too beige, they almost certainly have flour added, which makes them especially dry. The worst thing about dry falafel is that it gets stuck in your throat and you’re almost choking on the cardboard bits. YUCK.
That’s the other thing about falafel – it’s got to be fried. Baked falafel just isn’t the same! It’s the same thing with donuts. If you’re gonna have a donut, then have a donut. Just don’t bake it and squeeze the life out of the crispy fried donut dream.
And I’m not just saying it. I know because I put this recipe to the test – baked vs. fried. Sure the baked falafel patties were edible. A bit crispy, even. But they didn’t stand a chance near the uber crispy fried ones – with a moist and fluffy center and the crunchiest crust you’ve ever had.
You’re probably wondering where I came up with the idea of making spinach falafel. Well, I’ll tell you. My husband and I are both seriously averse to cilantro. It’s good that we’re on the same page about it, because otherwise we’d be having a fight every time I make Pad Thai. But there’s another issue too. My husband doesn’t like parsley either. And I do. So when it comes to dishes like falafel (especially green falafel), what’s a girl to do? Especially a girl with a cardinal rule of green falafel. She adds spinach (and sneaks in a little parsley!)…just don’t tell the hubby ;)
Spinach Falafel Burger
1 lb dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 1/2 cups baby spinach (lightly packed)
1/2 cup parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 lg onion, chopped
2 1/2 tsp coriander
2 1/2 tsp cumin
2-3 tsp kosher salt, or, to taste
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
light olive oil or canola oil, for frying
sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, for serving
hummus and/or tehina, for serving
burger buns, for serving
Soak the chickpeas in water (they should be covered by 3-4 inches) overnight, or for at least 12 hours. Rinse and drain well. Working in batches (I do half at a time), add chickpeas, spinach, parsley, garlic and onion to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is very finely minced, but not pureed (it should have a bit of texture). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you are working so that the mixture is evenly chopped. Place the processed bean mixture in a bowl and add the coriander, cumin, salt, baking soda and lemon juice. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (don’t worry if the mixture seems wet/loose, it will stiffen up a bit in the fridge).
Fry a small patty in hot oil and taste to check seasoning. Adjust, if needed. If the mixture still seems too loose and appears to be falling apart, add 1 tbsp of flour at a time until it stiffens up (I prefer garbanzo bean flour to keep it gluten free) .
Divide the falafel batter into patties. Heat enough oil in a frying pan, so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the falafel burgers. Fry until deeply golden and crisp on both sides and drain on a rack set over a baking sheet. It’s a good idea to line the baking sheet with paper towels to absorb any drips (if you drain the patties directly onto the paper towels, they won’t remain as crisp).
Spread hummus or tehina over burger buns and top with falafel patties. Garnish with cucumber and tomato.
VARIATION: you can sub some of the spinach with cilantro or try using other greens like kale or chard.
NOTE: due to the texture of the falafel mixture, I am not sure if it can be deep fried into balls (it may fall apart). However, you may make mini patties instead. Fry as above.
GRINDING OPTION: I tried this recipe using a meat grinder and a food processor and I found that it wasn’t necessary to go through the trouble of using a meat grinder. If you are careful about pulsing the mixture while still keeping some of the texture intact, you can definitely use a food processor. However, if you prefer to use a meat grinder, run it through the machine at least twice to get the right consistency.
BAKING OPTION: Although I recommend frying, you may bake them as well. Place patties on a greased baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake at 400 degrees until browned and crispy.
YIELD: OK, I forgot to count how many this made, but it was quite a bit. Feel free to halve the recipe. Or make the full amount and freeze the extra (they freeze really well).
If you follow my blog, you probably already know about my passion for Israeli fare. From cumin to za’atar and roasted eggplant to chickpeas – you’ll find loads of Middle Eastern-inspired recipes here on BIB. I’ve been growing my collection of Middle Eastern cookbooks as well, with Balaboosta just recently added to books like Plenty, Jerusalem, Cook in Israel, The Book of New Israeli Food, and more.
In this delicious appetizer, I’ve created a chickpea cake, in a preparation similar to polenta, using garbanzo flour. Such cakes are popularly served in Northern Italy (where it’s called panisse) as well as the South of France (where it’s called panelle). They are often cut into sticks and fried to resemble french fries.
For the topping, I went with a delicious combination of za’atar roasted cauliflower with caramelized onions, prunes and toasted pine nuts. The result is a delicious combination of Middle Eastern flavors – the perfect recipe to guest post on Yosef Silver’s blog, This American Bite. You may remember it from The Great Blog Swap Link-Up where I created a recipe for grilled corn with za’atar garlic butter, inspired by his recipe for garlic, za’atar & olive oil stovetop popcorn.
Ahh, za’atar, a delicious spice blend of sumac, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and salt – there’s nothing quite like it!
When my grilled corn with za’atar garlic butter was recently featured in a lineup of za’atar recipes on The Huffington Post, I knew I had to reach for the Middle Eastern spice once again.
People are always asking me for healthy snack recipes that they can make on a whim. And I always suggest my go-to diet snack – roasted chickpeas. I give lots of savory & sweet ideas in this old post, but it’s buried deep into my blog, and it doesn’t get much attention. So here we are again with this new za’atar variation – my favorite flavor of all!
Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tbsp za’atar
kosher salt, to taste
Pour the chickpeas onto a kitchen towel and pat dry. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with za’atar and salt. Stir to coat evenly and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, until crispy. Eat immediately.
After an extended weekend of nonstop meals, I’m sure we can all use some healthy recipes, expecially with the fast coming up.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are inexpensive and easy to find. They are full of fiber, and a good source of folic acid, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc. Chickpeas can be bought canned or dried and are extremely versatile. They are famously used to make hummus, but are also a great addition to salads, stews, soups and pastas. With a high protein content, and low glycemic count, chickpeas are great for low carb dieting. You can even purchase chickpea flour to use in cakes and cookies.
Roasted chickpeas are an especially fun and tasty treat. The beans get all toasted and crispy and take on whatever flavor you choose. The beans can be dry roasted or coated in oil (see methods below), either way, you’ll love this addictive snack. Just be careful, it’s easy to overindulge!
See below for my classic recipe, or, try these other flavor combos that I’ve found online!
• coriander, cumin, chili powder, sweet paprika, cinnamon, allspice, ginger
• cinnamon, cumin, chipotle powder, smokey sea salt, smoked paprika
• red wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, kosher salt
• tarragon, fennel, roasted garlic, honey, lemon juice
• brown sugar, rosemary, cayenne pepper
• lime juice, chili powder, pepper, cilantro
• apricot jam, wasabi paste, horseradish
• tamari, rosemary, lemon juice, agave
• soy sauce, sesame oil, chili powder
• tomato juice, curry powder
• garlic, pepper, rosemary
• smoked paprika, sea salt
• curry power, sea salt
• garam masala, sea salt
• sage, roasted garlic
• peanut flour, salt
• maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon
• honey, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
• agave, basil, white pepper, cinnamon
• cinnamon, brown sugar, sea salt
• maple syrup, ginger
• honey, cinnamon
• honey, sea salt
Other ideas: basil, oregano, parsley, cloves, herbs de provence, chinese 5 spice, roasted garlic
1 can chickpeas
Preheat the oven to 375. In a strainer, rinse the chickpeas well. Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and blot gently until completely dried. Drizzle with olive oil and spices and mix to coat. Bake for 30-45 minutes, shaking them around every 10 minutes or so, until browned and crispy (they should make a rattling sound when you shake the baking sheet). Watch them carefully towards the end so they don’t burn. Leave to cool. Chickpeas will crisp-up more after cooling.
To dry-roast (roasting without oil), bake the chickpeas for 30-45 minutes, shaking them around every 10 minutes or so, until browned and crispy (they should make a rattling sound when you shake the baking sheet). In the meantime, toast the spices in a pan and add oil to the spices to infuse the oil with flavor. Remove chickpeas from the oven and toss immediately with the infused oil. The heat from the chickpeas bakes the flavors just right.