Meatless Mondays: Falafel

Don't tell my husband, but we're going meatless on Mondays in the second half of January...and maybe on Mondays that come after the second half of January. Heck, if I had my way we'd be meatless all the time. Every time I look at a grocery store receipt and see the price I'm paying for meat, I think about how many pounds of potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and beans I could have gotten for the same amount. It's disgusting. And let's not even begin to discuss how much the price goes up if you want to have a steak sans hormones/antibiotics. Really? These cows were eating grass, a naturally occurring substance, how can they possibly cost more than the cows we injected with growth hormones which we had to first produce in some factory? Had I worked harder in my economics class, perhaps I would understand.

All this to say: "Yay, for meatless Mondays!" But, seriously, don't tell my husband. He has this equation in his head that goes something like this:

Meat (and only meat) = the energy needed to live another day

Now, this is not to say that my husband doesn't like vegetables. He loves vegetables...accompanied by meat. If I'm honest, most days I can actually get away with serving mostly veggies with a side of meat, but take the meat away all together and somebody's going to be digging in the fridge for a little lunchmeat garnish to add to the meal. I know, I know, I should be counting my blessings that he actually enjoys a heart healthy diet meaning we'll probably live to a ripe old age together, but I'm greedy, I want more. Thus, the introduction of meatless Mondays. My goal here is to make the meal so good, my husband won't notice that one missing ingredient.

The recipe below definitely lived up to that requirement. In fact, the best part was half way through the meal when my husband said, "Wow, there isn't any meat in this and it's so good." and then continued eating. And that, my friends, was my first flicker of hope that this could actually work. So here is one killer falafel recipe for you to enjoy.

originally inspired by Budget Bytes

1 3/4 cups garbanzo beans
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped (although I think red would be better)
large handful fresh parsley
large handful fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne or ground red pepper
7 to 10 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)
canola oil for pan frying

Place all of your ingredients except the flour in a food processor and process until everything is mixed together but not completely smooth.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the flour a few tablespons full at a time until you have a nice dough that will form into patties without sticking to your hands too much.

Shape your falafel into patties or "meat"balls. Use about 2 tablespoons of dough for each patty and 1 tablespoon for each "meat"ball.

Once all of your dough is shaped, heat oil in a large skillet until very hot, about 3-4 minutes on a gas stovetop, longer for electric. Add falafel to the skillet and lightly fry until the outside is brown and crisp on all sides. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Serve inside a pita with spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some sour cream and balsamic on top (unconventional, but delicious). Or if you're like me and would rather make the whole meal yourself (pitas included), but are short on time, serve the falafel wrap-style in these homemade tortillas. Mmm, mmm, good.

A couple of quick notes:

1) The original recipe suggests that you let the falafel mixture sit for four hours to allow the flavors to mix. Like I said above, I was short on time so my mixture only sat for about 30 minutes (while I mixed up and rolled out the tortillas). The flavor was still delicious, but might be that much better if you had the time to let it ruminate.

2) I doubled this recipe and froze half of it for a quick meal later on. Follow the recipe through shaping the falafel and then place your individual pieces on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. After about 30 minutes they should be frozen enough to transfer into an airtight container without sticking together. When I cook them, I'll probably pull them straight from the freezer and throw them into a hot pan like you do with storebought frozen falafel.

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