Saturday, March 7, 2009

Leftover Stuff : Lentil Falafel and Spicy Tabouleh

This looks kind of like a combo appetizer plate at a Greek diner: falafel, tabouleh, pitas, and hummus. But it's mostly leftovers from the last few nights tossed together. One of us made everything you see (including the bread) in about 40 not-terribly-rushed minutes. Rachel Ray would be proud. Or perhaps jealous. Though she makes $6 million per year, so it's unlikely.

We drew our inspiration (if you want to call it that) from the old couscous from the Moroccan stew, which had a great texture, even though it tasted like cardboard. And we found a bag of lentils that we've had since the Clinton administration.

For the pitas, we had reserved half the dough from the other night, rolled it into balls, put them into plastic wrap (oiled) and stuck them in the fridge. Dough keeps for days that way. You merely have to take them out an hour before you need them.

For the hummus, we had plenty left from the other night. It dried out a bit, but sprang back with a little water and oil.

Now for the new stuff.

Spicy Tabouleh

1 cup leftover couscous (bland and tasting like sawdust, if you can find it. Trader Joe's whole wheat couscous really fits that bill.)
½ - ¾ cup chopped parsley
¼ tbsp pureed garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp harissa
Splash of kalamata olive oil (or any olive oil)
Salt and Pepper

1. Mix.
2. Taste.
3. Adjust.
4. Repeat.

Lentil "Falafel"

1 cup old lentils you need to get rid of
3 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp pureed garlic
1 medium onion, grated
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4-5 cardamom seeds (optional)
Rice flour (optional, but cheap and available at any Asian or Indian grocery)
Salt and pepper

1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly and soak for several hours.
2. Put them in a pan with ample water, bring to a boil and cook five minutes or until they are al dente
3. Meanwhile, heat a dry pan, add the cumin and coriander. When they begin to smell nice, remove them.
4. Grind cumin, coriander, and cardamom in a mortar and pestle.
5. Drain the lentils, transfer to a bowl and mash with a potato masher until pasty (some can still be whole).
6. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, and spices. Toss to combine.
7. Now's the best time to taste and make adjustments.
8. When you're happy with the flavor, add 1 tbsp flour and knead slightly. Continue adding flour until the lentils are able to be formed into balls.
9. Pour rice flour out on to a sheet pan or cutting board. You can leave the rice flour out, but it makes a nice and completely unauthentic crust.
10. Roll the mash into golf ball sized pieces. You may need to wash your hands from time to time to remove the excess. Don't worry about waste, you're working with about $ .10 of ingredients here.
11. When each one is finished, flatten it into a disk, and toss it in the rice flour and set aside. (If deep frying, leave them round.)
12. Heat ¼ inch of oil in a frying pan. Cook until brown.

This recipe can also be used to make a veggie burger.

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