As some of you may know, I like to spend time at Odd Fellows Cafe . The ritual goes like this: I walk through the door, and a dapper looking man who is quite certainly better dressed than me greets me with a friendly 'hello'. I order the usual, a 12 oz decaf soy latte and a falafel salad, grab my table, and hunker down to work. I actually get a fair deal of writing accomplished in this humble spot. Something about the buzz of people chattering away, enjoying good food, puts me in a good place. Sometimes when I am having one-of-those-days, I like to order a couple of mimosas, although on those days, top-notch proofreading is essential.
So about the falafel salad - it's incredibly delicious, and very blog-worthy. So good that I tried to recreate it at home just so that I wouldn't have to get out of my PJ's and face the world. Sometimes I like to wear my PJ's all day. Often while I'm baking, and usually while I'm singing. And some days I just don't feel very social. On the rare occasion that Mr. H gets home from work at 8 or 9 pm, I've been known to go all day without saying a word - and I've got to admit, that's kind of weird. And even though my dog isn't a person, sometimes I catch myself having very lengthy conversations with him. Which is probably even weirder.
Yesterday, when I went downstairs to get the mail, someone said hello - people are so friendly in my building. I said hello back of course, but my voice didn't want to, and it did that weird screechy cracky thing. The thing that happens when you don't speak all day, and by the look on his face, he clearly knew it. Obviously, a lady who wears her PJ's all day, talks to her dog, has a weird crackly voice and hides in her closet isn't insane(!?!?) And yes, I just called myself a lady.
Without a doubt, we need to discuss this salad in further detail. In my experience, a falafel usually comes in a pita, with toppings spilling all over onto your new pants - some delicious pickled onions and sumac - and is served by a large hairy man with a lot of chest hair from the local gyro truck outside of the skeezy club in the small rural university town at 2 in the morning.
And now I find out that falafels are just as tasty without the pita and that weird hairy guy serving them up at 2am. Who would have thought?! From past experience, falafels have mostly tasted of chickpeas and spices, a little doughy on the inside and a little crispy on the outside from frying. I have now realized that if you make your falafel using dry chickpeas soaked over night, instead of the canned version, which are cooked, the falafel will be more crunchy. Which is how I like them. It's almost as if you are taking the delicious outside crunchy bits and scattering them throughout the falafel. These falafels are so delicious on their own, that it seems like a shame to bury them in a pita. I prefer them to be the star, showcased on top of the lettuce, with a little tomato and cucumber on the side.
Below, I've provided a recipe for a quick and easy dressing. It's mostly a few ingredients that I had in my fridge. Feel free to use a different recipe for the dressing, tzatziki, etc. Odd Fellows does a lemony oil dressing on the salad, and then serves a side of tzatziki!
FALAFEL SALAD RECIPE (print)
makes 16 falafels
notes: It is important to buy dried chick peas (which are uncooked) and soak them for at least 24 hours. Substituting for canned chickpeas (which are cooked) will change the texture of the falafels. The uncooked/soaked chickpeas will give the falafel a nice crunch, whereas the canned ones will give the falafel a softer more bread-like texture. The more you grind the falafel mixture in the food processor, the easier it will be hold its shape, but less crunchy. Chickpeas are otherwise known as garbanzo beans.
1 3/4 cups dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small handful of parsley, chopped and stems removed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1 small lemon
1 - 2 tbsp all purpose flour (enough to slightly hold the mixture together)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sesame seeds
vegetable oil for frying
DRESSING INGREDIENTS (makes a little more than 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup oil (canola, olive, safflower, or grapeseed)
2 tbsp lemon juice or 1 small lemon
1/4 cup yogurt (non-Greek)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
romaine lettuce, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
In the food processor, whiz half of the chickpeas until they are broken into smaller pieces - approximately 5 seconds. Remove them from the food processor and place into a medium size bowl.
Place the rest of the chickpeas into the food processor with the garlic, onions, parsley, cumin, coriander, cayenne, baking soda, salt and lemon juice. Whiz until all of the ingredients resemble a chunky paste - 10 seconds. Add to the bowl with the smaller bits of chickpeas and combine.
Stir in the flour, egg, and sesame seeds.
Place a piece of parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Grab a small handful of the chickpea mixture and roll into a ball. Place it onto the parchment paper. Continue in this manner until you have rolled all of the falafel balls. Place the baking sheet into the fridge and let sit for 15 minutes.
In the mean time, place enough oil in a frying pan to cover 2/3 of the falafel. Turn the heat to med-high. Wait for the oil to fully heat before frying the falafels. A good test is flick a small drop of water into the oil, if it jumps and pops, then the oil is hot enough.
Remove the falafels from the fridge. Carefully slide 5 or 6 falafels at a time into the oil. Do not drop them into the oil or they will fall apart. Fry for one minute on each side or until the falafel has turned a medium shade of brown. Remove from the oil and place onto a paper towel. Continue frying until all of the falafel are cooked.
In a mason jar or any jar with a lid, add all of the dressing ingredients. Shake until combined.
To assemble the salad, add the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and capers to a plate. Place a few falafels on top and drizzle with the dressing. The dressing will serve 4 people, so if you have more guests, double the recipe. Store the falafels in the fridge for a couple of days. Falafels are best eaten the day of.