I am not currently wearing raw linen. Or hemp underwear. I have not started making my own soap. Nor do I have plans to unite a ragtag gang of loners to start a banjo band. This much I can assure you.
But things have definitely gone a bit "granola" in my apartment. I’ve been hooked on homemade pita. I have no fewer than five jars of assorted nut and seed butters in the side compartment of my fridge. I've all but made friends with Pancho and Lefty after one too many nights with Willie Nelson.
I’m not entirely sure when or how this transformation happened. Actually, that’s a bit of a fib. A steay supply of bulk grains and dried beans has crept quietly in along with Dr. Bronner’s magic soap and some early crow’s feet.
And I can tell you precisely when my preoccupation with the falafel started. It was after an early evening trip to the Falafel Palace in Central Square. Specifically, after special #6, which consisted of a simple plate of falafel on a bed of shredded lettuce and tomatoes and a soufflé cup filled with hummus well laced with tahini.
I’ve had falafel on the brain ever since. And when I found this recipe, I figured it was time to pack up and move straight to the chickpea commune. It’s the kind of recipe that doesn’t require a lot of skills. It just requires some pistachios and fresh herb, along with the obligatory beans and basic kitchen equipment. And it gently suggests you be laid back when you make them. And that’s about it. Which is what you might expect from a baked falafel.
Since these guys aren’t fried they have a tendency to crumble once you bite into them. But I wouldn’t consider this a weakness. Especially if you have them properly sandwiched in a pita and sauced. They’re baked, after all, man. They're also downright delicious. I'll spare you the adjectives. Just know that these guys are easy to love. And easy to hold. Unlike cowboys. And perhaps people that live on communes.
Baked Herb and Pistachio Falafel with Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
For the falafel
8 sprigs fresh mint
8 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
½ cup pistachio
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic
1-2 tbsp minced onion
~2 tbsp olive or pistachio oil
5 cardamom seeds, ground (and shells discarded)
1 tbsp flour
pinch red pepper flakes
dash orange blossom water
1 tsp baking powder
For the tahini dressing
~2 tbsp tahini
~1 tbsp cashew butter
juice of ½ lemon
1-2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of cumin
pinch of coriander
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the herbs from their stems and blend them in a food processor (or blender); add the pistachio and pulse until well combined. Add the chickpeas and remaining ingredients and process until combined, keeping the texture of the mixture a little choppy with individual bits visible. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. (Do be careful with the salt as there is sodium in the baking soda.)
Scoop out about 1 heaping tbsp of the mixture and gently roll it into a ball, cupping it and packing it with your hands to firm it up a bit. Place each ball on a baking sheet greased with a little olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they start to turn brown. (You may wish to turn them occasionally to allow them to get color on all sides.)
While the falafel are baking, combine all the tahini dressing ingredients together in a food processor (or blender); thin the dressing with a little water and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve the falafel and dressing in a pita ... perhaps with lettuce, tomato, onion and thick Greek yogurt.
Yields about 15 falafel and about ½ cup dressing
-I used dried chickpeas that I cook and keep on hand in my freezer until they are called into falafel duty. If you are using canned chickpeas, you may want to rinse them first.
-Dear falafel, it wasn't intentional that I pushed you off for cake and frozen yogurt. If I made you feel second best, I'm sorry I was blind. But you were always on my mind. You were always on my mind.