Saturday, June 7, 2014

Falafel Salad

This past Mother's Day, Paul and I picked out our first set of patio furniture and I was so excited to bring it home to use for the first time. I adore eating outside but we have been unable to afford outdoor furniture and have made due with sitting on an eclectic assortment of camping chairs, old frayed folding chairs, and the little stools from Matthew's art table. The fact that we were about to bring home our very own outdoor dining set, complete with a beautiful glass table and large umbrella, made my heart soar. That is, until Paul did the measurements and determined that the box the table came in was way too big for our small car.

Being too cheap to pay the expensive delivery fee, we resolved to ask a couple friends who owned trucks to help us out later. We ate our Mother's Day meal once again on our ghetto deck set up and I needed to once again practice patience.

And then my heroic little brother rolled into town with his Chevy truck. He offered to help us out and I could have kissed him (but I won't because, as Luke and Leia taught the world, that's just gross).

Anyway, long story short, we now are the proud owners of deck furniture. We are making sure to use it often. In fact, the kids and I have been eating both breakfast and lunch outdoors. In the evenings, the whole family eats dinner outside despite Paul's fear of one pesky bumble bee that likes to torment him while eating. We have to figure out something to do about that because it definitely takes the fun out of al fresco dining when the husband is continuously glancing from side to side in fear of the Big Bad Bumble Bee swooping in to finish him off. Any suggestions for keeping pesty bugs away from the deck?

During the summer, I rarely turn on the oven to make dinner unless I happen to be making bread or a dessert of some type. We tend to eat a lot of salads to take advantage of the bounty of fresh, local produce that is suddenly available this time of year. I have always been a lover of Mediterranean cuisine - the focus on vegetables, herbs, olive oil, fish, and nuts pretty much embodies the type of eating style that I believe to be the most healthy, balanced, and sustainable. This falafel salad combines all the delicious flavors typically found in the popular deep-fried street snack into a healthier, lighter, waist-friendly meal. Tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and chickpeas are tossed with a delicious dressing of tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices. If you like hummus, this type of salad is right up your alley.

I took all these photos on our new outdoor table! If you look closely, you can almost see Emma crawling underneath the table.

Falafel Salad
adapted from Pink Parsley

Note: The original recipe includes instructions for making your own homemade pita chips by cutting three pita pockets into wedges, tossing the wedges with three tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkling generously with salt, and then baking them in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly crispy. These pita chips are then tossed with the salad right before serving. While I think this would be excellent, I chose instead to omit the chips and serve the salad over a bed of romaine tossed with a little extra tahini dressing with some naan on the side. Our family uses any excuse to make naan. This filling would also be great wrapped up in a warm pita or tortilla.

2 medium lemons or 1/3 cup bottled lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons Tahini
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups halved or quartered grape tomatoes
1 large English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Juice the lemons into a large bowl and measure out about 1/3 cup of juice.  Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl, add the olive oil, tahini, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Whisk well to combine.Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, cilantro, mint, and parsley.  Serve immediately.

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