Friday, April 22, 2011

Crock Pot Falafel from Crockpot 365

I have Stephanie O'Dea, better known in some circles as The Crockpot Lady, to thank for many of my favorite go-to recipes. Between her adventurous cooking and frank reporting, her blog is pretty great.

And in my opinion, one of her best - and most surprising - recipes is falafel that you cook in your crock pot.*
 Stephanie's Recipe:
1 15oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
-1 T dried parsley
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 t kosher salt
- 1/4 t black pepper
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- juice from 1 lemon 
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs 
- 2 T olive oil (for the bottom of your crock)
Drain garbanzo beans. Dump them into a mixing bowl and smash them with a fork. Set aside.

Get out your blender or food processor. Blend together all of the spices, the onion, the garlic, the egg, and the lemon juice.

Pour on top of your smashed garbanzo beans. Use your fork to mix together, and add the breadcrumbs slowly until the mixture is wet and sticky but can be formed into balls nicely. I needed 3/4 of a cup of breadcrumbs.

Pour 2 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crock pot stoneware insert.

Form squished golf-ball sized patties of falafel. Dip each side into the olive oil and then nestle into your crockpot. It's okay if they overlap or are on top of each other.

Cook on high for 2-5 hours. You will know that the falafels are done when they turn brownish-golden. You can flip them halfway through the cooking time if you feel like it, but they will brown on top even without flipping.
My "mise." Silly little lemon juice container not pictured, because I feel kind of lame about it.

See? EASY. And honestly, out of sheer laziness I sent my chickpeas for a spin in my food processor until chopped instead of mashing them. I still do recommend mixing the ingredients in the order she describes, though. (I just dumped the chickpeas out after chopping and added them back in later). I use a Ninja Master Prep and apart from a somewhat annoying-to-clean lid design, I'm a big fan.
This is one recipe that I follow without messing around with it. Which is a pretty big compliment.

And by "not messing around," I mean that I only changed the following:
- I always cook with dry beans, so I cooked my chickpeas the day before. (Wonderfully, chickpeas don't need to be soaked). The equivalent of a 15 oz can is just under 2 cups of cooked chickpeas. Dry beans are MUCH cheaper by volume, and I hugely prefer soaking and cooking them to wondering exactly what goop my beans are canned in, and why they taste like nickels.

- I used 2 tablespoons of lemon juice instead of a fresh lemon, just because that's what I had on hand.

- Instead of the half onion, I used a bit of white and a bit of red onion, and instead of Kosher salt I used regular, for the same reason as the lemon juice substitution.

Happy little falafels cooking in my 2-quart crock pot.
I served them in wheat pitas with lettuce, tomato, and a quick tzatziki I made with fat free plain yogurt, a little lemon juice, dried dill, and salt and pepper.

Truthfully, I've never had "real" falafel - that is, the deep-fried kind. But, Brady insists that these taste just the same, except obviously not the fried part. Even better!

* If you want to get particular, "CrockPot" is a particular brand of the general appliance variety known as the "slow cooker." I grew up calling them all crock pots, so that's what you get. But whatever you call them, they are magical and fantastic, and definitely NOT just for soup.

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