A few warm days and the overwintered parsley is sending up umbrels, those harbingers that the end is nigh. It was time to shift into a mindset of abundance, a sudden and welcome transition after winter’s scarcities, kale notwithstanding. In fact all of the herbs are growing at top speed these days, and standing in the backyard garden my thoughts jumped right to the Mediterranean — a plate of falafel, creamy with chickpeas and green with parsley, eaten with a minted yogurt, since there’s no scarcity in that department either right now.
Add in herbed meatballs mixed with parsley, mint, and oregano, plus a salad of arugula and baby greens, and you’ve got a nice little dinner on your hands. And one that’s pretty darn local, if I do say so myself.
But the cooking wasn’t quite as easy or smooth as my imagination made it out to be. On first go ’round, I found that frying falafel was like frying ice cream; they just melted into the hot oil. A bit of internet research led to an overnight chill for the falafel batter plus a deeper pot of hot oil, and voila. By then dinner was just a memory, but the falafel balls made a lovely lunch tucked into a pita and eaten, you guessed it, with more minted yogurt.
1 cup cooked chickpeas / 1 clove garlic / ½ onion, coarsely chopped / 1 tsp cumin / ½ tsp coriander / pinch cayenne / ¼ cup parsley, chopped / salt & pepper / lemon juice / flour
Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor and process until pureed. Add bean liquid sparingly if needed. Stir in salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Chill for at least one hour.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot to 350 degrees and maintain at 350-375 degrees. Alternately, a bit of batter dropped in the oil should sink to the bottom then rise. Form falafel mix into 1½-inch balls. Mix should not stick significantly to your hands. If it does, add flour by the tablespoon until stickiness goes away. Roll balls in flour, then drop in hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve right away. Feeds 3-4.
1 clove garlic / ¼ tsp salt / 1 cup plain yogurt / 2 tbls mint, finely minced / pinch cayenne
Mash garlic and salt into a paste. Stir together with yogurt, mint, cayenne, and refrigerate for at least half a hour before serving.