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Farmer and chef Andy Varela prepares a delicious and easy springtime falafel that makes a perfect meal or snack. A falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern fast food that is a favorite among vegetarians. It is rich in protein, although this dish does not utilize any meat, because the main ingredient of the falafel is a chickpea. Chickpeas contain about 9 grams of protein per 100 grams serving, only a few grams less than a cup of milk.
Valera’s recipe is very simple, and utilizes only a handful of ingredients. In this falafel there is chickpeas, lemon, sweet onions and a variety of spices and aromatics. The unusual ingredient in Valera’s recipe is arugula, which adds a distinct flavor and more vitamins. This falafel is a light snack that will be perfect for your next picnic. As an appetizer, it is served on a salad, or with hummus and tahini. As a main dish, it is served as a sandwich, stuffed in pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and tahini.
2 cups chickpeas
¼ whole onion, diced
½ cup mezuzah/arugula, chopped
½ cup parsley
½ whole lemon juice
1 whole egg, beaten
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1. Add the chickpeas, to a medium-size blender. Pulse the blender until the chickpeas are mashed.
Transfer the chickpeas to a medium to large bowl.
2. Dice ¼ of a sweet onion and add that to the bowl with the chickpeas.
3. Chop the mezuzah (or arugula) as well as the parsley very finely. Be sure to remove any large stems off the greens. Add the greens to the bowl.
4. Mince the garlic and add that to the bowl.
5. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the bowl. Be sure to remove any seeds.
6. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin to the bowl.
7. Use your hands to mix everything together until well incorporated.
8. Once the mixture is unified, create small cakes out of the mixture.
9. Begin to heat olive or canola oil in a large skillet.
10. Take the cakes, one at a time, and coat them with breadcrumbs. Then dip the cakes into the beaten egg, and once again in the breadcrumbs.
11. Sauté the falafels in oil until they are golden brown. Allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Andy Varela, Maitland Mountain Farm, 2013.
Originally from Southern CA, chef and farmer Andy Varela owns and runs Maitland Mountain Farm with his fiancée Holly Maitland and their newborn son Jett. Renowned in his adopted home of Salem,