Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Black Bean Falafel

I thought it would be fun to make falafel again; I believe this is my third time now! Since I've already done the more traditional type of falafel, as well as a creative, fun pea-lafel, I thought this time I'd try a variation with black beans. I found a pretty cool recipe that was pretty much exactly what I was looking for. It worked out so well that I already want to make these again, and I'm eager to share it with you.

It's very, very easy to assemble the falafel. You basically throw all your ingredients in the food processor and blend it up, and then you add the black beans in last so that they are not quite as ground up as everything else. You toss your falafel balls in some cornmeal, which really gives them a nice, crunchy exterior. I thought that was a great touch; it really contrasted well with the softer interior of the falafel. The flavors were great, although I think the recommended 1 jalapeno could have been increased by one or two. I improvised just slightly (the original recipe called for fresh cilantro; I didn't have any, so I used ground coriander and ground fenugreek) but otherwise stayed pretty true to the recipe. I think it's a great "starter" falafel, because it lends itself to so many different uses. These would be equally delicious in a pita pocket, or tossed with salsa and served in a Mexican salad. I think I'm turning into a falafel-holic!

Black Bean Falafel
adapted from Everything's Eventful
makes 12 patties

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground fenugreek
1 egg
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped (I think I could have used 2)
2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup cornmeal, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, the egg, jalapeno, 2 Tbsp. of cornmeal, and salt and pepper. Process the mixture until nearly smooth, then add the black beans. Pulse the mixture until the black beans are chopped pretty fine, but not completely blended in. You want it to be slightly chunky.

2. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup cornmeal into a shallow bowl. Using a scoop or your hands, form falafel balls by using 1/3 cup of the mixture at a time. Slightly flatten the balls, and then roll each in the cornmeal, gently shaking off any excess. Transfer the balls to a plate as you go. You should be able to get 12 balls.

3. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat it to medium heat (you can also bake these, or use a bit of canola oil to shallow-fry the balls). Working in batches, add three or four falafel balls at a time to the skillet. Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, until nice and brown on both sides. Remove the balls from the skillet and serve. Some serving suggestions: over a bed of spinach, stuffed in a pita pocket with some hummus, cucumber, and sprouts, or inside an English muffin.

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