It’s officially summer and fresh produce is bountiful. I love this time of year because I can stroll through my local veggie market and feel all smug about buying local because there are cherries and peaches and beans to choose from and everything is bright and beautiful and- because it’s local- affordable! Fresh. Local. Abundance. Feels good, man.
(I mean, it sure beats our January selection of kale and… I dunno… turnips.)
On the flip side, I do tend to get… carried away.
“Oh look, fiddleheads! Late in the season, too! Raspberries, oh I’ll get some of those… Oh my god, look at how beautiful these apricots are. We should stop at the blueberry farm on the way home and pick up a flat!”
My husband, Colin, avoids accompanying me to the local market now. To be fair, him not being there probably makes my problem even worse because then there’s no one to say “Do you really think it’s a good idea to buy all of this? We’re going away on vacation in a week.”
Which is exactly what happened. Last weekend, I got too excited. I went to the market solo and bought three massive bags of local bounty for a measly $15 and came home beaming with excitement, planning all these amazing summer meals… and then the work week happened and- while I did do a lot of cooking- some nights you roll home at 7pm and you just end up eating pieces of toast over the sink.
So now I’m fast approaching the weekend and I have so many things to eat before going away.
Something tells me Colin wouldn’t appreciate if I swapped his work lunch out with an apple, 4 raw eggplants, a zucchini and a head of celery (I would, like a good sport, take the rest… there is a lot).
Time for a vegetarian feast to make the most of this produce!
Sitting on my counter was a bag of fresh broad beans, also known as fava beans. I had recently read an article about falafels (because that’s the kind of news I read) that explained the difference between Syrian/Israeli/Palestinian/Lebanese falafels and Egyptian ones, namely that the former are made of chickpeas and the latter exclusively out of broad beans.
After some foodie research online, I came to the conclusion that chickpeas provide a nuttier flavour but broad beans offer a light creaminess. Sooo… let’s use both!
I did use the fresh broad beans I bought for this recipe but… I probably wouldn’t recommend it? It’s a lot of work- shelling them (buy 5 times as many beans as you think you need, those big pods aren’t as packed full as you would expect), cooking them, peeling them…
I will include some instructions below for using fresh but next time I will probably opt for dried or canned.
Falafels can be hearty so I like to pair mine with some bright acidity to liven the dish up. For this, quick pickled red onions are a favourite of mine. I try and keep a little batch on rotation in my fridge at all times for wraps and tacos- they punch up any kind of hand held food without being overpowering! Best of all, they’re dead easy and ready in no time so it’s not like you have to plan extra far in advance to have that ultimate fixin’ of choice. Also, they’re hot pink… talk about a visual wow factor.
Before you ask, yes, these falafels are fried. I know there are a lot of recipes for baked falafels out there- and that is fine- but nothing really beats the crispy, fluffy heaven of a falafel dropped in piping hot oil. Thankfully, if you keep your falafel mixture at room temperature, the fritters themselves don’t absorb a lot of oil (handy tip: this works when frying just about anything- bring your ingredients to room temperature if you can! Cold ingredients will soak up a lot more oil and become heavy and greasy).
Top all that with an assortment of fresh greenery, maybe a tomato slice or two, and some avocado if you’re feeling extra decadent (I always am) and you have a vegetarian feast delicious enough to please even the staunchest meat-eater.
I wrapped these falafels up in a chewy flatbread, because I’m a carb monster like that, but you can serve them atop a salad just as easily for something a little lighter. Big bed of greens, amp up the veggies, a few crispy falafel patties and you’re in business!
Finally, the drizzle of classic lemon tahini yogurt sauce. Without it, these would be completely vegan, so if you have friends who steer away from any and all animal products you can omit this or substitute the yogurt in the recipe with a non-dairy alternative.
I also like to add a little hot sauce or some spicy pickled peppers if I have any on hand, but I’m crazy for spice, so I’ll leave that to your discretion.
- 100 g dried chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours
- 200 g dried broad beans, soaked for 24 hours
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp each of ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Pickled Red Onions
- 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
- Yogurt Tahini Sauce
- ⅓ cup plain yogurt
- 1.5 Tbsp Tbsp tahini paste
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- Additional Fixin's, build as you like
- Pita wraps, flatbread or naan
- Mixed greens
- Sliced tomato
- Hot sauce
- Pickled hot peppers
- Sliced avocado
- Cucumber, carrots, sprouts, any other veg- load 'er up!
- Soak the chickpeas and broad beans in a large bowl of water overnight. You'll want a larger bowl that you think, because those beans are going to grow like those soak-em-grow-em dinosaurs we all got as kids (do they still make those anymore? Or did someone find out they were secretly really harmful like... playing with mercury?). Drain. Cover a large baking sheet with paper towel and spread beans and peas out on it to dry.
- * If you're using fresh broad beans... Shell the beans. Take the pods out and boil in well salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel the pods, squeezing the ends gently until the tender bean pops out the end.
- In the meantime, let's start those pickled red onions. Mix together vinegar, salt and sugar until the dry ingredients are dissolved. Place onions in a sanitized glass jar and pour vinegar over top. Add peppercorns and top up with water until all the onions are submerged. Set aside at room temperature for an hour to steep. After this, they will be ready to eat. If you're not eating them right away, pop them in the refrigerator to store.
- In a food processor, blitz together your beans and chickpeas until smooth but with a bit of texture. Add spices, green onions, garlic, cilantro and parlsey and whiz again until everything is incorporated. Pour falafel mixture into a large bowl, add baking power and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix yogurt, tahini and lemon juice and zest. Ta da- that's your tahini sauce, done.
- Take chilled falafel mixture and form small balls or patties, roughly 6 cm across.
- Heat oil in a deep pan until it hits roughly 350 degrees.
- Fry the falafel balls in batches, setting the cooked falafels to drain on paper towel or some cooking racks (or, like I do, both!).
- Serve warm falafels drizzled with tahini sauce and topped with pickled red onions. Eat them wrapped up in a pita bread with additional toppings or over top a green salad!