Saturday, October 24, 2015

FALLING IN LOVE IN PARIS (WITH FALAFEL)

By Mary Kennedy                                
 
I found a new love in Paris a couple of months ago. (Relax, I'm still with my terrific Brit husband). My new love is...that delicious Middle Eastern treat known as falafel!
                                                        
 
Why did I have to go to Paris to discover the ultimate falafel recipe? After all, I'm from New York, where falafel is a popular staple on food trucks. It's usually served in a pita bread with veggies and is really popular in Manhattan.
                                                                             
 
But there was something about the falafel served at a tiny garden restaurant called Bench that was amazing.
                                                        
 
Bench is tucked away on a narrow, winding street in the Marais district and unless you're looking for it, you might pass it by. It's at 4 Bis Rue des Rosiers, 75004, Paris.
                                                         
 
The falafel at Bench is served with a delicious selection of veggies--braised red cabbage, cold sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, shredded carrots, etc. A generous ring of hummus is spread on the outer rim of the plate (for dipping) and as an alternative, a ring of Greek yogurt. I was in heaven.
 
I've been experimenting with falafel recipes since I returned from Paris and I want to share my favorite with you. It's very easy and uses canned garbanazo beans (also known as chick peas)  
 
My Favorite Falafel
Ingredients
 
one cup canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
one cup chopped onion
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon cumin
4 tablespoons flour
fresh parsley, minced
 
Directions
 
This is so easy. Just throw everything in the food processor and pulse. I used a lot of parsley from the garden, love the fresh taste it adds. Now store the mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, it is easier to form into balls or patties.
                                                         
The falafel at Bench was served in little balls the size of ping pong balls. You can also make patties. This recipe makes 8 balls or patties and two or three should be enough for a pita (especially if you pack the pita with loads of fresh veggies.) You need four or five for a veggie plate or it will be too skimpy.
 
Now you have a choice. You can remove the mixture from the refrigerator and shape into balls (or patties) and you can 1) bake them on a cookie sheet for about 15 or 20 minutes at 350. This is probably the healthiest choice but it is hard to get that "authentic" taste that way.
                                                          
Instead, I sprayed a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and added a very thin coating of olive oil. (Seriously, just a smidgen.) This worked fine. They had that "fried" taste, without all the oil and calories.
                                                   
 
I like them served with a lot of fresh veggies as they were at Bench, and I add a ring of hummus and a ring of yogurt around the plate for dipping. The yogurt is actually plain Greek yogurt--I shredded some cucumber into it and let it sit in the refrigerator for half an hour.
 
It's probably wise to double the recipe. These are so tempting, it's easy to gobble them up. I gave the recipe instructions for a small amount, in case you want to try them for yourself, for lunch.
 
Hope you enjoy this recipe and will give it a try. Bon appetit! By the way, photo credits to my talented son, Sean, who took the picture of the Eiffel Tower at the top of this post.
 
Mary Kennedy