If you don’t like tahini I suggest that you just forget about this blog all together. May I also suggest that you’re crazy? Just a thought. Three posts in a row here have included tahini and I don’t really plan on stopping. It’s sort of a sorry- not sorry situation. Sorry. I bought a really large jar of tahini that I thought would last me at least a few months, but a few batches of cookies, salads, more salads and just general shmearing has left me scraping down the sides already. Oops?
One day, Matt’s kind + thoughtful coworkers gifted him a bag of bird seed to bring home for dinner. You see, he often got made fun of for the contents of his tupperware at lunch, claiming that my strange concoctions of vegetables and grains must be grounds for divorce. Poor guy, I’m roasting up sweet potatoes, and massaging kale and soaking lentils and all he’s probably thinking is what’s a guy got a do to get a steak ’round here? I love him for that though. He’ll try absolutely everything and never puts up a fuss. He could care less about the lunch time ridicule, and me? Well, I thrived on it. I looked forward to hearing the stories after work, about the hilarious comments that would get thrown around the table. I decided it was my calling to introduce these men to the likes of quinoa, soba noodles and heaven forbid – raw fennel! So the bird seed came home and I knew I had to make a grand finale before the season was over and Matt starting working up at the mountain for the winter. To most, a mezze platter might be a familiar sight, but to this group of meat + potatoes, traditional french food loving men, it resembled more the makings of a pine cone bird feeder than anything even remotely edible. There were these baked falafels, hemp seed tabbouleh, hummus, vine leaves, baba ganoush, socca bread and a little jar of bird seed on the side, just for garnish. They had an absolute field day.
CRISPY BAKED FALAFELS WITH WINTER TABBOULEH, TAHINI + ZA’ATAR
A few notes on these feel good falafels. They are baked, not fried so the texture had to be perfect. I had done a little research on falafels, and the most authentic ones seemed to use dried, soaked chickpeas pulsed into the batter then deep fried. While I am sure that this makes a delicately moist little morsel, when baked they were far too dry and crumbly. However, cooked canned chickpeas were too soft and lacking in a punch of flavor.
Solution. Par boiled chickpeas. Soaking and then par boiling the chickpeas just long enough to soften but not too long so that they lose their bite yielded the exact texture I was after. Call me crazy, call me falafel obsessed, I’m going to go with garbanzo connaisseur. I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the falafels, keeping it clean between each one, and it worked well, but any small scoop should do. I’ve given you some measurements for a homemade za’atar spice mix below, but if you have a store bought one that you like by all means use that. Chickpeas, tahini, and za’atar, just a few of my favorite things!
Vegan + Gluten Free. Makes 18-20 falafels, serves 4 or more.
1 + 1/3 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight ( 8 hours)
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoon gram flour (i.e. chickpea flour, besan)
Zest of one organic lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Olive oil, for brushing
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for sprinkling
1 cup millet
2 cups water
Pinch sea salt
Seed (arils) of one pomegranate
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Lemon zest, to garnish
1/3 cup tahini
Juice of one lemon
Pinch sea salt
Water, as needed
4 tablespoons dried ground marjoram or thyme
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas. Once boiling, drop the chickpeas in the water and boil for 15 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water.
While the chickpeas are boiling, add onion, garlic and herbs to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to grind and combine. Add the remaining ingredients (except chickpeas + water) and pulse to combine. Add chickpeas and water, and pulse a few more times to break up the chickpeas and form and chunky mixture. If it looks really dry, add a touch more water. Set the mixture in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
Scoop out the falafel mixture in parts, about 2 tablespoons in amount, I used a ice cream scoop here and it worked great. Place individual falafels on a baking sheet, brush the tops with a generous portion of olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the oven until golden and firm, about 30-35 minutes, maybe longer. Remove and let cool.
While the falafels are baking, make the tabbouleh and tahini dressing. Place millet in a dry saucepan and toast over medium heat, once toasty and fragrant add 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil the let simmer covered until the water is absorbed and the millet is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Toss cooked millet with pomegranate seeds, sliced fennel, parsley and a good amount of olive oil to keep the millet hydrated, garnish with lemon zest.
Mix tahini, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine, adding enough water to thin to a dressing -like consistency.
Mix the ingredients for the za’atar together, (you could use store bought if you like here too), and sprinkle some over the tahini dressing. Some middle eastern super markets sell their own blend which are usually great. Keep spice mix in a sealed jar in your cupboard.
Serve falafels with millet, tahini and extra za’atar, and perhaps some lightly dressed greens on the side. Garnish with extra toasted sesame seeds if you like. Enjoy!
Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!