Monday, January 31, 2011

Meatless Mondays: Pea-Lafels

Wow, this whole Meatless Mondays thing is becoming a real habit for me! What has it been now, three I've done? It's been so easy to go meatless at least once a week for us. It's truly been refreshing to see what else is out there in terms of creative entrees.

Hey, speaking of creative entrees, check out these Pea-lafels I recently made! This recipe comes from the reigning champ of Food Network's show, The Next Food Network Star, Aarti Sequeira. I've made a few of her recipes now, and I've loved every single one. This one is certainly no exception. I actually found this one on her blog, Aarti Paarti. There's some really good stuff over there, stuff that she hasn't cooked on her Food Network show. Check it out if you are at all into Indian food!

So what are pea-lafels, anyway? Well, they're a riff on the more traditional falafels, which are chickpea balls that are normally deep-fried. These little green wonders, on the other hand, are made of peas and edamame. Yum! You add in some freshly ground spices, such as fennel and coriander (and the fenugreek that I bought especially for this!). There's some shallot, some garlic, and salt and pepper. Oh, and mint. That adds a nice zinginess. You puree the mixture in a food processor, add some flour to bind everything, and you're ready to bake them. Well, I baked them, but in Aarti's recipe she gives instructions for deep-frying. I decided to modify this just slightly, since it worked well enough when my CEIMB group did Ellie's Baked Falafel.

This results in a crisp, brown pea-lafel on the outside, with a creamy, soft interior. They were delicious! In the future, I may try to add some spice to the mixture. Then again, that is probably why Aarti advises you to add horseradish! I didn't have any, so I obviously couldn't do this, but I see now why she did. These make a great pita sandwich with veggies and either yogurt or ranch dressing inside. They're easy, they're scrumptious, and they're exotic! How's that for a Monday night dinner?

adapted from Aarti Paarti
makes enough for 4 or 5 pitas

1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed and drained
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
Handful of fresh mint leaves, plus more for yogurt sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp.)
Salt and pepper
Squirt of horseradish sauce (optional; I omitted)
1/4 cup flour (Aarti used chickpea flour, which I do not have)
2-3 pita breads, sliced in half
Fresh spinach leaves
Thinly sliced radish
Plain yogurt, or
Ranch dressing

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small skillet, toast the fenugreek, fennel, and coriander seeds for several minutes, until fragrant and slightly darker. Remove from pan into a small bowl to cool. Meanwhile, mix yogurt with desired amount of fresh mint leaves and salt; chill in fridge until ready to eat. Throw cooled seeds into a coffee/spice grinder and powder.

2. Throw the peas, edamame, spices, shallot, garlic, mint, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper into a food processor. Puree the mixture; add up to 1/4 cup water, one tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is not coming together. Note: the mixture will not be completely smooth, because of the edamame, but blend as best you can.

3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl; add horseradish, if using, and flour. Mix well. Using your hands, form the mixture into balls and place on a nonstick baking sheet lined with foil (or spray the sheet with nonstick cooking spray). You will probably get about 12 or so total.

4. Spray the tops of the balls with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the sheet, from the oven, and flip the balls. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven when the pea-lafels are crisp and browned.

5. Assemble pitas: add fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced radish, 3 pea-lafel balls, and your choice of yogurt sauce or ranch dressing to each pita half. Enjoy!

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