Happy summer everyone! I know I am a few days late with my wishes but I forgot to send them your way last week. I actually welcomed the change of the seasons last Thursday night with 108 sun salutations at East Meets West Yoga. A small group of us celebrated the summer solstice by doing 108 Surya Namaskar A. The significance of the number 108 is an auspicious number, open to interpretation but it has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. You can read more about the importance of the number 108, here in this wonderful article by Shiva Rea. The practice was such a nice way to welcome the new season and all the change that lies ahead. I am so glad I was able to participate and experience it with some of my fellow practitioners and teachers.
This time of year, even just at the very start of the summer in the midst of the heat and humidity, I crave clever and fresh meals that don’t require a ton of prep and standing around in the hot kitchen. But you have to get creative if you want to do more than just grilling. I absolutely adore salads in the summertime! Anything I can come up with that is simple, green and not hot makes me happy as can be.
The other night I wanted something more than just a regular green salad and I had been craving falafel, but I had to figure out how I could make falafel without dying of heat. I figured the best way to have it all was to mix up the “dough” mixture for the falafel and allow it to cool and come together in the fridge, while I cut up all the veggies for the salad. Then I plated the salads, made the dressing and placed that in the fridge. When it was time to preheat the oven, I quickly rolled up the falafel got it on the pan and then went outside on the patio. While the falafel baked I enjoyed the cool breeze outside and didn’t have to deal with the heat from the oven. When the falafel were ready, I tossed a couple on the already plated salads, drizzled the dressing on top and carried our plates out onto the patio where we enjoyed a beautiful dinner while the sun set. It was perfect.
These falafel are insanely simple and so delicious. I have fresh parsley and oregano growing in my garden, so I popped out back and grabbed a bunch to add to the mixture and they brought a really nice bright fresh flavor. One of my favorite things about falafel is the spicy intense flavor from the garlic, I cannot have too much garlic in my life (although those around me probably wish I consumed less). It is so good. You can feel free to add more or less, I used 3 cloves, 2 of which were so massively sized. I served the baked falafel on top of a green salad that was a mix of local greens from the farmers market, I used a half and half mix of romaine lettuce and arugula and I topped them with grape tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers and red onions. The only thing we were both missing the minute we took a bite, were some tangy and slightly spicy peperoncini. They would have been perfect.
As any good Greek girl would, I have always absolutely loved tzatziki sauce and that is how I have always preferred my falafel to be served, but since I have stopped eating dairy, I had to get creative and come up with a new way to serve it. Since tahini pairs so well with the flavor of chickpeas, I figured a creamy tahini dressing was the way to go. The nutty flavor was perfect with the creamy vegenaise and the tangy lemon juice. Feel free to stick with classic tzatziki or whatever your favorite dressing is. And if you aren’t gluten-free (or maybe you have a good gluten-free recipe), you can stuff a sliced open pita pocket with your greens, some tomatoes and onions and whatever else you’d like and top with a couple of falafel balls. That is heaven!
On Saturday, I just picked up my first CSA share from Porter Farms and it was loaded with 4 different lettuces and a variety of other greens, so you can be sure you will be seeing more salad recipes! It’s time to get creative with my salads and their toppings.
What is your favorite way to eat a salad? What foods do you crave when it is hot out?
Baked Falafel Bites with Creamy Tahini Dressing
[print_this]Baked Falafel Bites – Gluten-free + Vegan
Makes 20-25 balls, serves 2-4
- 1 25-ounce can of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled (feel free to add more garlic if you like your falafel super garlicky)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour, gram flour or besan) – you could also use a gluten-free all-purpose flour
Add everything but the chickpea flour and baking powder to the food processor and pulse until everything is well combined. You want the chickpeas coarsely chopped and all of the ingredients combine, but don’t puree it, you do not want it smooth and pastey.
Add the baking powder and chickpea flour and pulse to bring it all together into a dough. Add more flour if need the dough is too wet and not holding together well. Form the dough into a large ball and cover, refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch – 2 inches balls (you can also make patties if you prefer). Place the balls (or patties) onto the baking sheet, they don’t need much room between them since they don’t change size or expand.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning them over about halfway through, bake until nicely browned.
Serve the falafel on top of a beautiful green salad with all of your favorite things and drizzle with creamy tahini dressing (recipe below), you could also serve them inside of a pita pocket or over rice.
*note – I love chickpeas and I eat them very often, so I always buy the larger can that is 25 ounces, if you buy a standard sized can that is 15 ounces, just use a bit less chickpea flour and baking power, more like 1/4 cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder and you will just end up with a few less falafel balls or patties.[/print_this]
[print_this]Creamy Tahini Dressing
makes approximately 1 cup of dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup vegan mayo (I use homemade)
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
Add all of the dressing ingredients to the food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve, the dressing will get thicker as it chills.This dressing will keep for approximately 7-10 days in the fridge. [/print_this]