Monday, August 22, 2011

Falafel and Tabouli

Day 407

Last time we met I told you how, living in the suburbs, there are times I desperately miss my favorite ethnic takeout spots in the city. There was a Turkish spot near my old office that had the best food - just thinking about it makes my mouth water! I was practically addicted to their Falafel and Hummus Salad, which was three or four large, fresh, hot falafel served atop a heaping scoop of cool, creamy hummus and herbalicious tabouli. I guess I thought that without a deep fryer I'd never be able to mimic those flavors at home. Wrong!

During my last year at the agency, I worked on a project with Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian. What I like about her is that she's not a chef's chef. She's a mom of four, with a master's degree, who simply loves to cook. That means her dishes are quick to make and easy enough for the amateur home cook (that would be me!). She's also traveled and lived all over the place so she's not afraid to experiment with different flavors and spices in an effort to recapture some of her favorite dishes from around the world.

On a recent episode on her show, "Ten Dollar Dinners," she created a light, simple menu of some of her favorite foods inspired by two classic ethnic restaurant and takeout dishes - falafel and tabouli. Rather than making her tabouli the traditional way with bulgar wheat, she substituted pearl-shaped Isreali couscous. And instead of chickpea-and-tahini hummus, she made a white bean, yogurt and garlic sauce.

This dish was three strikes - you're in! The falafel was super easy to make, the couscous tabouli was the perfect side - light and fresh - to accompany the fried falafel, and the sauce was absolutely delicious. Not only did the sauce provide an extra element of protein via the white beans, it complemented but also stood up to, the other flavors on the plate.

Time to Dish:
For the falafel, I used can chickpeas. I didn't have time to soak and wait. Guess what? I couldn't imagine it tasting any better so I'll use this shortcut next time, too.

I used Greek yogurt for the sauce, rather than the plan as instructed. Next time, I think I'll cut back on the garlic just a tad. Since it's not cooked at all, the garlic got to be a little strong by the end of the meal.

I always have whole wheat couscous in my pantry, but I've never bought Israeli couscous. I couldn't find it at my market, so I ended up buying a box with a flavor packet (you know the ones), and just used the couscous itself. I also skipped the mint - I'm just not a huge fan.

I skipped the lettuce, tomato and cucumber garnish because I felt the tabouli and white bean sauce was enough to complete the meal. And I'd do it again! I've been craving this since I made it. It will definitely be added into the regular meal rotation.

Falafel recipe:
Tabouli recipe:

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