Fun with falafel

I can’t tell you the first time I had falafel but I know that it was love at first taste. And the love affair has been ongoing ever since.

I like any kind too. There’s not a boxed falafel I haven’t enjoyed, and I will go out of my way to get it in stores. Literally. Almost any time I’m in Iowa City, I’ll make a stop at Oasis. Heck, one time I made my family go to Canada (from Montana) to get a falafel dog (and hot dogs, which I also love).

Baked falafel ingredients.

So, it’s not a surprise that when I found a homemade recipe for it years ago, I had to try it. And once again, I’ve been making it ever since.

My tastes have evolved over the years, so it’s probably just my current palate that makes me say this, but I think this time is the best I’ve made it.

It comes from a snarky vegan cookbook that I’ve only made a handful of recipes from and mostly ignored the annoying pleas for using coconut oil, and I’m sure I’ve made other things where I straight up just added real cheese. Not to snark on vegans but, man, cool it sometimes.

So, suffice to say, I’ve amended the original (though mine is still vegan. Until I top it with tzatziki.).

Since I don’t have a good food processor, I used my very wonderful Ninja blender. That made it a little hard to bring the mixture together so I added a little water, and this made the mix look a little like cookies when I finally baked them. But don’t let that fool you, they were still amazing and perfect, and I honestly recommend making them with a few splashes of water even if you have a food processor so they turn out this delightful.

While they’re not as simple as pouring from a box, they are baked instead of fried and still pretty frickin’ easy, and did I mention, amazing?!

These aren’t cookies, but they are savory treats that won’t make you falafel. 😉

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 T. panko crumbs
  • 2 T. whole wheat flour
  • Chopped parsley, to taste (it calls for 2 T. but I like more)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 t. ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 t. ground coriander, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, preferably spray

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or lightly coat with oil.

In a food processor or blender, combine the garbanzo beans, onion, panko, flour, parsley, garlic, spices, and a splash of water and blend. Pulse until smooth, adding tablespoons of water as necessary. Once mixed, flatten into about a dozen rounds and place on the lined sheet pan. Spray or brush lightly with more oil.

Bake for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through, and enjoy with tzatziki and pita!

Bread, beans, and bangers make a mighty meal

It’s turning out that my brother’s Christmas present of Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients” is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only have we found some great recipes in general but it’s always good for a sheet pan recipe when I’m short on time and inspiration.

This week’s meal, a savory pseudo bread pudding with beans and bangers, turned out to be just what I needed.

Sausage bake ingredients.

It may have been recommended for when the weather requires something hearty, but it has the side benefit of being relatively quick in the oven so it worked well in the heat. And let’s be honest, once the Midwest got warm, it got real warm and so the A/C has been going for weeks now.

Despite the 5 ingredients moniker, Oliver does supplement it with up to 5 pantry staples (the same 5, FWIW), and he suggests that the base ingredients can be added to. So, I tweaked his a bit.

First of all, our garden has been just full of green beans thanks to a freebie of provider beans from Seed Savers, so I figured I could throw them in and add some more veggies. And second of all, I couldn’t find rosemary focaccia for some reason, so I used olive and pepper varieties but still supplemented with rosemary because who doesn’t love rosemary.

Also, it calls for a British sausage that I can’t find and didn’t bother to try to replicate. Instead, I turned to my favorite meat-monger and bought another British sausage, bangers. I think any sausage will work; bangers certainly did. Oh, and British measurements are hard to get right without extra work, so I changed them to clip up everything.

Other than all those changes, I mostly followed the recipe and had a delicious dinner in no time. I’m bookmarking it for the winter when I’ll surely turn to it again.

Despite what you’ve heard, British food can be freakin’ fantastic.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 (15 oz.) cans great northern beans (or similar variety)
  • 2 (pint) containers of cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large bangers (8-12 sausages, or 12 chipolatas if you can find them), cut into bite-size pieces or slightly larger
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 small loaf (about 300 g.) focaccia, rosemary or whatever variety, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • Any garden veggies or herbs you want to add (optional)

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the tomatoes and garlic on a large rimmed sheet pan. Top with bread, and then pour the beans (with their juices) on top. Add a splash of water (I used the bean can to get a little more bean juice). Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the top of the mixture, and then dot with the sausage pieces.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and bubbling; let cool slightly and enjoy!

Serendipitous simple spinach swirls

I was not expecting to make this week’s dish, but I just happened to have all but one of the ingredients on hand. So, one Sunday morning before a get-together with friends, I whipped together spanakopita-like spinach swirls.

Spinach swirls ingredients.

And they’re a real Frankenstein’s monster of my previous sheet pan recipes.

I had left over one sheet of puff pastry from the sausage “sandwich” I made earlier this year. I had bought a gigantic block of feta for the chicken meatballs, because it called for the brine too, and had quite a bit leftover. I had the basic idea of what it’d take to make it work from when I actually did make spanakopita. We even just happened to have dill around for some reason, and everything but spinach is a regular pantry item. So, I sought spinach.

While I made this frantically, because as usual I was running late for said get-together, it was super simple and comes together quick. Mine didn’t look as pretty as a similar-ish recipe on the back of the puff pastry box but still tasty.

My only issue is I took the back-of-the-box advice to brush on an egg wash on the dough before baking, which was fine, but it made the swirls stick to the pan, so I wish I had used parchment paper for easy cleanup. Oh, and I probably should’ve strained the spinach a bit. Other than that, simple and delicious.

So simple and so delicious.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • ~1 c. crumbled feta (I’d bet a 4 oz. container of crumbled feta would be a fine amount)
  • ½ c. Parmesan, shredded
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dill, to taste
  • Flour, for rolling pastry dough

Directions

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Squeeze out water from handfuls of spinach and place in a large bowl. Add feta, Parmesan, garlic, 1 egg, salt, pepper, and dill to the spinach, and stir well to combine.

Place a small handful of flour on a clean surface, and unroll the puff pastry sheet. Sprinkle with more flour, and then roll out to about 12 inches by 10 inches or so.

Place the spinach mix along the long side of the puff pastry. Roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into about 12 slices.

Place face up on the lined sheet pan.

Mix together the remaining egg with about 1 T. of water. Stir the egg wash on the edges of the puff pastry to coat.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown, and enjoy!