Vegan: Chickpea Cakes with Mashed Avocado
Note: For the 32 days between February 1st and March 4th, I'm adopting a completely vegan lifestyle. Every weekday I'll be updating my progress with a diary entry and a recipe. For past posts, check here!
These falafel-esque fritters started off as exactly that—an experimental recipe for falafel. My problem? I longed to have a recipe that could give me the satisfying crunch and nutty/herbal flavor of falafel without having to pull out the deep fryer.
The base for the fritters is made with canned chickpeas that I carefully dry and combine with bulgur wheat in the food processor. I found that if I add all the chickpeas at once, it's hard to get good textural contrast in the final dish. Better is to pulse half of them until roughly pureed to form a binder, then pulse the remaining half just until roughly chopped to give you nice big bits to bite into.
For flavor, I use a ton of herbs—parsley, cilantro, and mint—by the handful, blending them right into the mix along with a dash of coriander.
At first I thought that the solution to my deep-frying conundrum might be as simple as forming them into patties and shallow frying them. This didn't work too well—the patties disintegrated in the oil, leaving me with a sludgy browned mess to clean. It even happens in the deep fryer if you don't dry your canned chickpeas well enough
The solution was simple: just bread the suckers to give them a firm coating that will keep them from falling apart. As I found in my Fried Eggplant Sandwich recipe, a simple mix of flour and water works just fine to get breadcrumbs to adhere.
After that, it was a simple matter of making them into a meal. A bit of mashed avocado adds brightness, richness, and creamy texture to the mix, while a nice mixed green salad rounds it all out.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.