I eat a lot of falafel. It can come from a cart, a restaurant, or even a deli case--I don't really discriminate. But I probably should be more picky because most of the falafel out there isn't great. So much of the falafel I find is either greasy and falling apart or dense and dry. But after making King of Falafel & Shawarma's falafel recipe in Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace's new cookbook, New York a la Cart, I may stop buying my falafel pre-made (unless of course I happen to be in Astoria and happen to stop by the Falafel King himself). These falafel are made properly, with soaked dried chickpeas and a whole party of spices. Rolled into small balls and fried for just a few minutes, they emerge crisp-tender and fragrant. They're perfect in pita sandwiches or eaten one by one, with your hands, dipped into a giant bowl of tahini.
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These vegan falafel-esque patties made with chickpeas and bulgur wheat have a crunchy breadcrumb and are served with mashed avocado for a rich and creamy texture.
I'm a fan of the falafel, the bright green variety. The crisp little chickpea fritters are brightened up with tons of finely chopped parsley and cilantro, and the added greenery does wonders for what can sometimes be a dauntingly dense sandwich. Silvena Rowe, author of Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume has taken the green falafel concept one step further with these fantastically light Crunchy Red Swiss Chard Falafel.
These crab and chickpea "sliders"* start with a slightly streamlined, miniaturized version of Mantuano's Falafel Crab Cakes (I use canned chickpeas, tweak the spice blend to make it more sandwich-friendly, and add a tiny bit of flour to help the patties hold together more easily during the frying stage), which he describes as from "southern Spain, which owes many culinary inspirations to the Moors of Northern Africa."
Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless. This weekend, right in the middle of sipping...
I was once helped to edit a cookbook devoted entirely to crab cakes, so I considered myself somewhat of an expert on the subject of pan-fried shellfish patties. Dungeness or Chesapeake, cracker crumbs or panko, to Old Bay or not...