My favorite thing to get at Mediterranean restaurants is falafel, because if their falafel isn’t good then you should turn around and walk out. If you are in central North Carolina, go to Neomonde’s. You will not be disappointed. Their falafel is delicious. It’s coated with sesame seeds, so it’s perfectly crunchy on the outside. It also contains a wonderfully spiced and slightly textured middle. I’m sure you are thinking, “What good falafel in the South?”. But yes, I promise it’s awesome. The owner is Lebanese and knows what he’s doing.
But alas you may not be able to go there. So just for you I’m posting this falafel recipe. It’s not as good, but then again I’m not from the Mediterranean, as much as I wish I was. It’s beautiful, the food is amazing and the people are relaxed and happy. Wait, why don’t I live in the Mediterranean? Okay, I’m going to go ponder why I don’t live along the Aegean Sea. You can go make these recipes and transport your home for a night to a lovely seaside town along the Mediterranean coast. Maybe you’ll run into me there.
Falafeladapted from Epicurious 1 16 oz-can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1/2 onion, roughly chopped 4 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon baking powder 4 to 6 tablespoons flour vegetable oil for frying 1/4 to 1/2 cup sesame seeds (optional)
Place the chickpeas, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and cumin into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until blended, but not pureed. Sprinkle in the baking soda and 4 tablespoons flour and pulse to combine. The mixture should form a ball and not stick too much to your hands. If it does, move the mixture into a bowl* and add another tablespoon or two of flour. Stir in the flour and check the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes to overnight**.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet filled with vegetable oil to medium-high heat. Form the dough into small balls the size of a golf ball. If the dough is sticky, slightly wet your hands to prevent sticking. Roll the balls in sesame seeds if you have them (optional). Place the balls into the hot oil. Cook 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Store the cooked falafel on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven. Once all balls have been cooked serve warm with yogurt sauce (1/4 cup yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon lemon juice).
*Why move it into another bowl? Because if you keep it in the food processor, the mixture will become over-mixed and pureed. This will cause the falafel balls to be too mushy and hard to cook.
**If you don’t have time you don’t need to refrigerate the dough. Refrigerating it will help the dough firm up.
My Tabouli1 cup cous cous 1 cup water 1 cucumber 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes 1/2 cup minced parsley 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon honey 3 tablespoon olive oil salt and pepper
In a small saucepan bring the water to a boil. Stir in the cous cous. Cover and remove the pan from heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff cous cous and move into a bowl to cool. While cooling, chop the cucumber into bite-size pieces, chop the tomatoes in half and mince the parsley. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and season as needed.
Combine the cooled cous cous, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and dressing. Place in the refrigerator and allow the flavors to come together at least 20 minutes.* Serve cold or room temperature.
*It’s OK if you don’t, though you really should allow the cous cous to cool. I put mine in the freezer to cool quickly when I’m hungry.
Pita Chips2-4 pieces of pita 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic salt and pepper
Turn the broiler on and move an oven rack to highest postion. Cut the pita into wedges. Arrange the pita pieces on a baking sheet. Finely mince (or mash together with salt) the garlic and place in small bowl. (I use my mortar and pestle, but you don’t need one.) Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper along with the olive oil. Stir ingredients together. Brush the top of the pita pieces with the olive oil mixture. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Watch carefully and don’t forget about them. They will burn (I do it too often.). Remove from oven and flip the pieces over. Brush the other side with the olive oil mixture and return to the oven. Cook another minute, until golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy.