Meatless Monday – Baked Falafel

We eat a lot of salads. Many days we have two, one for lunch and another for dinner, and if you consider green smoothies a pureed salad, then that would make three. Teen prefers a salad in his lunch over the more traditional PBJ or bagel school lunch. And I still remember with pride the time Tween’s preschool buddy’s mom remarked that she could not believe that Tween asked for and ate a salad during a playdate at her house. I know my schedule is out of whack when I ‘forget’ to have a salad for a few days–usually it means stress has me craving something less healthy.

And so we constantly look for ways to jazz up our salads, switching up lettuces and toppings. One of my new fav things to make at home: falafel. The recipe makes a bunch, and it’s easy to boot. Most of the ingredients are staples in our house, so the only “extras” I need at the store are the fresh herbs, both parsley and cilantro.

The last time I made them I also tried a spicy green sauce which worked as a salad dressing and a taco sauce, slathered on dry pan toasted corn tortillas. While a basic vinaigrette works perfectly for the salad, this green sauce took the falafel taco to a whole new level that makes the extra step worthwhile.

Baked Falafel
Makes approx. 30 falafel

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
6 cloves garlic
½ c fresh parsley
½ c fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp arrowroot or corn starch
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
Fresh squeezed lemon juice or water, as needed to blend ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients except juice/water in a food processor and process. Add lemon juice or water as necessary to keep ingredients moving, just don’t get them too wet. Leave a little texture to the beans.

Shape the mixture into balls; a small cookie scoop makes this easy peasy. Space them evenly on baking sheets, and bake for 25 minutes. Check the falafel. If you can, turn them over (I have never succeeded in doing so). If not, swap the trays to bake all falafel evenly. Bake for another 15-25 minutes, checking occasionally. The edges will darken though the middles will still be soft.

Because these are baked and not deep fried, they will be soft and not as crunchy. The last time Guy and I hit up a Greek restaurant, I ordered a falafel wrap–and was surprised that I now prefer the baked version!

(Based on a recipe from Forks Over Knives website)

Green Tahini Sauce

3 garlic cloves
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1/2 c fresh parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
1/2 c tahini
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (add more to taste)
water to blend

In a food processor, pulse first five ingredients to form a pesto. Add tahini and lemon juice and pulse. Slowly drizzle in more water (or juice) to form a thick salad dressing consistency.

Unless you use it as a party dip, this recipe may make more than you can use on one occasion. To freshen up leftovers, stir in a little more lemon juice.

(Based on a recipe from Epicurious)

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Meatless Monday – Getting Saucy

The best part of a veggie Thanksgiving meal? Not spending All Day Long cooking a turkey! We keep the menu fairly simple and mostly traditional – mashed potatoes, stuffing, salad, veggies, biscuits – and add some baked salmon with oranges, cranberries and rosemary for the fish-eaters and a small turkey breast for the carnivores. We divvy up the dishes and nothing takes too long.

Which leaves time for this:beach boys

We took kids and dogs, some more excited than others, to the beach. Too cold for swimming, the people bundled up and the dogs jumped in the frigid water anyway, barking and chasing and playing until they flopped in exhaustion. Our dog met her younger blonde twin, also a rescue, and we couldn’t get them to stay still long enough to take any really good pictures.
dog twins

Beach time was the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving morning, and even our once-reluctant kid-companions agreed. We put out some while-the-grown ups-cook nibbles, sauteed and mashed and baked the afternoon away, and ate dinner at a comfortable 6pm.

My always-favorite bite of the Thanksgiving meal? Cranberry sauce. Adapted from a recipe I found on Epicurious many moons ago, this one = YUM! And my new discovery this year? The easiest ever, scrumptious vegan gravy adapted from Tablespoon, just as much a hit with the carnivores as the vegetarians. It may seem a little late now, but the holiday season has only just arrived and more of us will be making celebratory meals for family and friends. Get saucy, friends!cranberry sauce

Cranberry and Orange Relish
Makes 3 1/2-4 cups (recipe can be cut in half)

2  Tbsp plant-based spread (Earth Balance)
2  Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2  c dark brown sugar
1  c orange juice
16  oz cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 c orange marmalade

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the Earth Balance. Add ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add sugar, orange juice, and cranberries. Cook until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the marmalade to taste (depending on desired sweetness). Turn off heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: Can be prepared up to 5 days in advance. Also good w/ cranberry juice and raspberry jam in place of orange juice and orange marmalade.

Easy Vegan Gravy

1 Tbsp plant-based spread (Earth Balance)
1/4 c all-purpose flour
3 c vegetable broth
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In a sauce pan melt Earth Balance, then add flour and stir. When smooth slowly add vegetable broth. Add remaining ingredients. Whisk until desired thickness is achieved. Serve warm.
Note: This recipe looks like it will make a lot of gravy, but the broth reduces and thickens on the stove top. I didn’t measure the results, but it made just enough for our table of seven with no leftovers. I’ll double it next time.