Cooking classes are one of my favorite things! Being able to express to people my favorite parts of cooking gives me so much joy! A lot of times cooking classes give me a chance to talk about my food philosophy; slow food vs. fast food and how cooking can have a positive impact on our earth. This month our Wellness Director, Cait Mowris, and I decided to do a collaborative cooking class!
A big part of my cooking involves breaking down the common misconceptions of certain foods; i.e. tofu is gross, veggies don’t have protein, or humans need meat to survive. Cait and I decided to base our cooking class around some common questions that arise around protein; how much protein is appropriate for a meal, can you get complete proteins from eating only veggies, or is there such a thing as too much protein?
Setting out to try and answer some of these questions Cait and I decided that a good meal to make during class would be Falafel Pita Sandwiches with a fresh Greek Salad!
Of course during our cooking class we focused on my usual idea of “community cooking”. All of the clients got involved in forming the falafels and preparing veggies for the salad! Once the meal was coming together we started on trying to determine how much protein was actually on one plate of food. The clients initially thought there wouldn’t be much protein since our meal was completely vegetarian, but after finding serving sizes for our meal we determined there is actually about 50 grams of protein per plate! Some of the clients were now saying there could even be too much protein for one meal!
In our findings during our cooking class we determined that falafels are a pretty protein dense meal. Since all of the protein comes from just vegetables though it ends up being almost the perfect amount of protein for the average male. After helping to make the falafels and actually eating them, most of our clients had changed their minds on vegetable protein. You can actually get enough protein from just plants AND the meal can taste good too!
Our greenhouse is just killing it! Bok choy, Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Radishes, and so much more! With the longer and warmer days of summer just around the corner our outside garden will soon be just as vibrant as our greenhouse!
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Falafels and greek salad!
(this is a two day recipe only because you need to soak chickpeas)
Serves: 5-6 people
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
For the falafels:
- ¾ pounds of dry chickpeas
- 2 small shallots diced into ¼ inch pieces
- 2 raw cloves of garlic
- About a cup of chopped cilantro
- ½ - 1 cup of chickpea flour (or regular all purpose flour)
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- Sunflower oil as needed for frying falafels (or use canola/vegetable oil/coconut oil)
- About 6-8 pita pockets (or make your own! Refer to my recipe in the foundry’s blog!)
For the tahini salad dressing:
- ½ cup of tahini
- The juice from one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About 1 cup of warm water, or enough water to thin the sauce
For the salad:
- ½ of a big box of mixed greens (whatever your favorite greens are)
- 1 15oz can of chickpeas
- One small container of cherry tomatoes
- One red onion
- One small head of cauliflower
- Olive oil as needed
For the tzatziki sauce:
- 1 ½ cups of unsweetened greek yogurt
- Juice of 2 lemons
- One cucumber shredded
- 1 teaspoon of dill seasoning
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- The day before you want to enjoy your falafels, put the ¾ of a pound of dry chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with about three times the amount of water by volume. Let the chickpeas soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
- Start the next day by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.
- Working on the falafel mix first, begin by straining the chickpeas. Now dice your shallots and peel your garlic. Place the garlic and shallot in a food processor or blender. Add the cilantro, kosher salt, cracked pepper, paprika, and cumin. Pulse the food processor until all ingredients are minced and mixed together. Transfer your mixture to a large mixing bowl and set aside for now. Now, working with about 1 cup of chickpeas at a time, blend them in the food processor until the chickpeas are very finely chopped and paste-like (if using a blender you may need to scrap the sides down on occasion). When the chickpeas have been processed, place them in the bowl with the garlic onion mixture. Once all of the chickpeas are in the bowl with the garlic onion mixture, stir the mixture until combined. Add in the chickpea flour and baking soda (more chickpea flour may be needed to hold the mixture together). Form the falafel mixture into patties with your hands that are sized slightly larger than a golf ball. Place the patties on a baking tray and set aside for now.
- Now work on prepping your salad ingredients. Wash and rinse your salad greens, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, cut the red onion into strips (julienne), and cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces. The red onions will be caramelized on the stove, so place them in a saute pan with a little olive oil and set over the stove to medium low heat. Stir the onions occasionally and cook until they are a nice dark caramel color on the outside. While the onions are on the stove, work on the cauliflower. The cauliflower will be roasted in the oven along with the can of chickpeas, so toss the cauliflower in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Drain the chickpeas and place on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place both the cauliflower and chickpeas to the side for now and work on your tahini dressing.
- For the tahini dressing start by juicing the lemon or use about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. In a medium size mixing bowl whisk the tahini, lemon juice and warm water together. You are looking for a thinner consistency so add more water if necessary. Now add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce will be pretty tart but it will taste great on the salad! Set sauce aside for now.
- Work on the tzatziki sauce. In a medium bowl combine the shredded cucumbers, lemon juice, cilantro, and dill. Taste sauce and add salt/pepper to taste.
- Alright! Now everything is prepped and ready to cook! The falafels will be shallow fried on the stove, so in a large skillet preheat enough sunflower oil to cover the bottom of the skillet plus a little more. While the pan heats up, place the cauliflower and chickpeas in the preheated oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly charred and chickpeas are slightly crispy. When the falafel skillet has warmed up, place the falafels onto the hot oil. Cook for about 5 minutes per side or until the first side has been nicely browned. When the falafels, cauliflower, and chickpeas are all done, it is time to plate and enjoy! Place the falafels into the pockets of the pita bread and top with some tzatziki sauce. Lay some greens on a plate next to the falafel pita and then top the greens with; cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, chickpeas, roasted cauliflower and tahini sauce. Enjoy!
Have a safe and clean month! - Chef Henry
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