Individual Falafel Pie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am so over this thing called “work” and “earning a paycheck”.  Especially when said paycheck technically puts me under the poverty level.  And when textbooks for one class total $138 (when finding the best deals used).  #Gradstudentlifeisfun

So I am particularly excited to head out of town with my mom and take a trip to the northeast next week. Excited as in my neurotic self has been planning/fantasizing for the past month.  We will be visiting family and hitting New York City for a few days.  And while in New York, one goal of mine is to eat lots of food, including falafel.

I have a confession. I use to hate hummus.

At gatherings people would often joyfully announce to us all “Guess what, I have hummus for us!”. Everyone would cheer and gush, and I would remain very quiet. I’d insist I wasn’t hungry or choose the other offerings, leaving the tan dip to those who could stomach it.

Well, I was a fool. Hummus is delicious. As is lots of Greek food.  Now I love to eat hummus on pita chips and carrots, but I also like to mix my hummus with falafel. Chickpea dip on chip baked chickpea balls? I reworked my baked falafel into this single size falafel pizza, mostly to just up the cute factor. This is for when you just want straight falafel and toppings with no pita bread to slow you down.

Also, it’s great if you are looking for a lighter meal- this is a healthy, vegetarian dinner that will leave you happy and satisfied.  I am trying to trim up a little before my vacation (without any actual exercise… because I am tired and/or lazy).  My thinking is that I can just return back to my equilibrium after going hog wild on vacation.  Logic FTW.

If the falafel in New York is good, I may never be coming home.  Mom, you’re okay with 100% supporting me in a listless New York life full of eating and relaxing, right?  Good.

So tell me, what do I need to see in New York? Where should I go? Most importantly, what should I eat?

FALAFEL PIE
Inspired by Heat Oven to 350

INGREDIENTS

For the Falafel:
1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 red onion, minced
5 cloves of garlic, roasted
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon coriander (cilantro seeds)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Olive oil, for brushing

For the Toppings:
Hummus
Tzatziki
Kalamata olives, halved
Grape tomatoes, halved
Cucumber, chopped
Sweet pickles, chopped
Feta cheese crumbles
Goat Cheese crumbles
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Falafel:

Pour dried chickpeas into a large bowl. Cover with water. Let soak at least 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In the food processor, combine chickpeas, onion, garlic, cumin, parsley, coriander, salt, lemon juice, and water. Pulse until mixture forms a paste. Fold in baking powder and flour, until mixture stays together. Add more flour if needed.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide falafel mixture into four portions and form into 5-6 inch circles. Brush tops with olive oil. Bake for 20-23 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

Top with any mixture of desired toppings. My favorite way is to spread a layer of hummus on the falafel pie and top with olives, tomatoes, cucumber, pickles, and goat cheese. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Makes four falafel pies.

Turkey Schwarama

No, I have never heard of turkey schwarama either.  But now that November has hit, I officially have turkey brain.  I am so ready for Thanksgiving.  Not only am I in desperate need of a few days of vacation, I am excited to get back in a big kitchen and cook up a wonderful meal with my mom.  And, of course, I do plan to enjoy devoring the food as well.

This schwarama is delicious with turkey, but I promise you any poultry will taste good when marinated in this Middle Eastern spiced yogurt sauce.  The meat stays moist, and the spices all combine to form a complex, lovely flavor.

Once you have the meat cooked, you have many options.  You can wrap it in a pita and slather with a garlic yogurt sauce, you can eat on skewers, or you can eat over couscous.  Any way you eat it, please do me and yourself a favor and incorporate pickles.  The salty sweet crunch of pickles works so well with this meal.

For all of you who can’t wait for Thanksgiving like me or are in the process of planning your meal, feel free to check out my Turkey and Thanksgiving labels. And look out for recipes coming later this month!

TURKEY SCHWARAMA
Adapted from Nutmeg Nanny
INGREDIENTS

For the Turkey:
16 ounces turkey breast
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the Couscous:
1 cup dried Israeli couscous
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, sliced
4 scallions, chopped
2 ounces sweet pickles, chopped

DIRECTIONS

For the Turkey:

Cut turkey into individual servings, about 4-5 pieces.  Pound to even thickness if needed.  Place in single layer in a baking pan. In a bowl mix together Greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, all spice, cloves, paprika, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Spread yogurt mixture over turkey.  Toss to combine.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Oil a large baking sheet.

Remove turkey from marindate, scraping off any excess.  Arrange chicken in single layer on baking sheet.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, until turkey is done.  Transfer to cutting board and slice thinly.  Transfer back to baking pan to soak up any juices.

For the Couscous:

In a small saucepan combine Israeli couscous and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Cover and let simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minutes.

In a small skillet heat olive oil.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.  Add couscous, scallions, and pickles and toss.  Serve turkey on top of couscous.  Drizzle with additional red wine vinegar if desired.

Serves 3-4.

On an unrelated food note, I actually won something!  I won a giveaway from Fair Trade USA at A Dash of Sass.  I got some great stuff, and I am ready to eat and cook with the new ingredients.  Check out A Dash of Sass’s blog for some great recipes too!

Shawarma Meatball Wrap with Pickled Cherries

We may have not just saved the world from an alien invasion, but hey, we all deserve some shawarma, right?* This wrap takes wonderful Middle Eastern flavors, puts them in a meatball, and wraps them all up in a pita.
Shawarma is a mass of meat (chicken, beef, pork, goat) that is flavored with warm, Middle Eastern spices and cooked over a fire spit.  It is then shaved into thin slices and devoured with tahini, a yogurt sauce, or hummus.  I was inspired when I saw someone take this dish and turn it into a meatball.  I love a good Italian meatball sub with cheese and tomato sauce, so I figured I would also love a wrap with  meatballs and yogurt sauce.  And I was right. And I am figuring you all will love this too.

I topped my meatball wraps with caramelized onions and some pickled cherries.  I have always wanted to experiment with pickling, and remembering an old episode of The Chew where Michael Symon explained how to pickle, I felt inspired.  I thought some juicy, sweet, and slightly vinegary cherries would compliment the flavor of the shawarma well.  Some pickled peaches or nectarines would also work well in this wrap- it’s a perfect time to take an opportunity to enjoy your summer fruits in a new way if you are new to pickling like me!

(* I consider this vague enough not to be a spoiler, and besides I feel like everyone and their brother have seen this movie already… right?  Or am I a bad person ruining movies when you just wanted to hear about food?)

SHAWARMA MEATBALL WRAP WITH PICKLED CHERRIES
Shawarma Meatballs Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
Pickled Cherries Adapted Slightly from Michael Symon
INGREDIENTS
For the Pickled Cherries:
20 cherries
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cinnamon stickFor the Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
Pinch of salt

For the Meatballs:
1 pound ground lamb (beef or turkey)
1/4 red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
Pinch of salt and pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

For Serving:
3-4 pitas
Caramelized onions
Goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

For the Pickled Cherries:

Prick each cherry several times with a fork and place in a glass jar.

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, orange zest, and the cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Pour over cherries, until they are completely covered. Cool completely at room temperature. Chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

For the Yogurt Sauce:

In a small bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, garlic, cumin, and salt. Chill for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.

For the Meatballs:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl combine ground lamb, red onion, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, lemon zest, Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Stir together until just combined. Coat a baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Working with about 1 tablespoon a mixture at a time, form into small meatballs. Place meatballs on baking sheet. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until cooked through.

For Serving:

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Warm pitas,about 1-2 minutes per side. Spread yogurt sauce on pita bread. Stuff with meatballs and top with chopped pickled cherries, caramelized onions, and goat cheese if desired.

Serves 3-4.