Monday, January 9, 2012

Alan's Greenlafels

A green what?!?  Greenlafel, you say?  Well, yes.  I wanted falafel, but I'm trying to come up with non-meat alternatives to add to my vast repertoire, and this seemed like a good idea.  Happily, "good" was an understatement.

I was inspired by Aarti Sequeira's Pea-lafel idea on her bellydance episode of "Aarti Party", but I didn't like the flavor combinations she used, so I didn't even look at her recipe to be honest.

Greenlafel “dough”

16 oz bag of frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup frozen peas & carrots, thawed
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
½ cup chickpea flour (or whole wheat flour would work)
2 tablespoons olive oil


1 cup plain yogurt (I like greek yogurt best)
½ cup chopped cilantro
Garlic salt
Lemon pepper


1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Thinly sliced onion (be creative)
Cucumber, sliced about 1/8 inch
Pita bread
Bowl for yogurt sauce
Food processor for making dough
Pan with ½” to 1” of oil for frying.  (Use a deep pan like a dutch oven to reduce the splattering on your stove)
Tongs for turning balls in hot oil


Mix the yogurt with the chopped cilantro, and add garlic salt and lemon pepper to taste.  Set aside in the fridge, covered.

Take the greenlafel ingredients and put them in the food processor, blend until smooth.  It won’t get totally smooth, but it will reach a wet doughy consistency.  If still too wet to form into balls that you can handle, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it’s right.
Form some dough into 4-5 small balls, a tablespoon should make something about the size of ping-pong balls while the oil heats in your pan for frying.
When the oil starts to shimmer in the pan, carefully place 4-5 balls in it being careful not to drop them and splash hot oil on yourself.  They’re ready to turn when you notice the edge turning a dark caramel color.  They cook fast, so don’t walk away!   As you remove from heat and replace with uncooked greenlafel balls, if they start to crumble as you’re turning or removing from the oil, they didn’t cook long enough to hold together, or the dough was too wet.  You can add some flour to the remaining dough to stiffen it up a bit more if needed for the next batch.  They’ll still taste great, so don’t fret if they fall apart on you, just hide them from guests.

When you’ve cooked all you need, or all the dough, you can turn the heat off under the oil and start assembling pitas.

With the pita cut in half, you’ll have 2 pockets.  Figure that each guest might want to eat two because they taste so good and it’s really just vegetables, after all.

Open one pocket up, put 2-3 greenlafels in (whatever fits depending on how big you made them), followed by a spoonful or two of the yogurt sauce, and whatever veggies you want in it.  You can use lettuce, or spinach, or small dice tomatoes in addition to what I listed above, it’s really up to you.  Radish sprouts might even be interesting and lend a little kick to things.

And as for that dough – feel free to experiment with spices.  What I listed came out pretty mild (by my standards), but the flavor was still great.  It was so good I would consider spreading it on bread as part of a sandwich!   The leftover dough I have is going in a container in the fridge to use again in a couple of days, it ought to hold up pretty well.

And in case your inner carnivore is asking where the meat is… chill out.  I still like meat too, but there’s a LOT of protein in this meal, PLUS lots of fiber and veggies, which means vitamins!  Parents might find this a good vehicle for sneaking veggies in on your kids (or spouse, or roommate).

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