Monday, December 6, 2010

A Middle Eastern Vegan Meal... on the go!

We belong to a awesome wine club here in town. Purple Smile, the most fantastical wine shop ever has this great little wine club with lots of options and a super fun monthly pick up night/weekend.

Their shop is in Fairhaven but they also have the Purple Space which is a warehouse on the water (literally on the water) where they do their club pick ups the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of every month. The space is fun, welcoming and unique and every month we look forward to attending to pick up our wine and, of course, taste the month's selections.

Now, we have been doing this for quite some time but haven't really grasped the concept that it's right after work and we are hungry! Our usual M.O. is heading over to the Space to meet up with our darling friends, the other half of the 'Peens'. We taste, we laugh, we schmooze, we laugh, we taste, oh, and we laugh. A lot. Yes, they are that funny. But by the time we're done, we are absolutely starving and always say we should have brought snacks with us.

So this month around, after dramatically proclaiming that we will not be hungry! I decide to pack a picnic dinner for our night out. But what to make? Something that could be versatile enough to go with the unique wines of the month.

Oh also, something easy and something that would travel well., i.e. travel and emerge from picnic basket looking fresh, delicious and tempting. I decided to go with one of my favorites that I haven't made in a while: Falafel, tabouleh, hummus and pita.

Now, I didn't have time to make the pita on my own, but I did make everything else. And it was delicious. And it looked pretty. And it went well with the wine. And there was hardly anything left over.



Le Wine Tasting Menu:
Baked Falafel
Quinoa Tabouleh Salad with Green Bell Peppers
Sun Dried Tomato Hummus
Pita Bread

Serves: about 4
Quinoa Tabouleh Salad with Green Bell Peppers

Need:
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water
juice of 1 large (and juicy) lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed or diced very fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 sweet white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
About 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if they are big cherry tomatoes)
About 1/2 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped (about 1/2 bunch)
About 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped (1 small package)

Do:
Boil quinoa in water, according to package.

In a sealed jar or container, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Seal and shake the heck out of it.

In a bowl, combine the chopped onion, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, parsley and mint.

When quinoa is done, remove lid and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add to the bowl of veg and stir.

Give your dressing jar another good shake and then pour about half over your salad. Stir to combine well then taste. If it needs more dressing, add it then stir again. You don't want it 'swimming' but you do want to be able to taste the lemon and garlic.

Add salt and pepper as needed once you are satisfied with the dressing.

Serve:
If you're going mobile, pack in tupperware or other sealable container, to be presented at your picnic.

If you're going to eat it right away, serve with freshly baked falafel, hummus and pita bread.

Enjoy!

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

Need:
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (with a little of the oil.. don't go overboard though)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 large leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
About 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor. Pulse/blend while streaming olive oil into the food processor about 2 Tablespoons at a time. Make sure you don't go overboard, giving the olive oil time to mix everything together before adding more.

When combined and smooth, give it a taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed. I started with about 1 teaspoon salt and ended up having to add about 1 more. Same goes for the pepper.

Serve:
If you're traveling with your hummus, scoop it into a tupperware container and let it ride shotgun to your picnic.

If you're going to enjoy right away, serve with pita bread (homemade or store bought), fresh tabouleh salad and delicious baked falafel.

Enjoy!

Baked Falafel
(Apologies... I didn't get a photo because it disappeared faster than fresh doughnuts at a Krispy Kreme)

Need:
1/2 sweet white onion, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
About 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon salt (plus more after tasting)
3 Tablespoons unbleached flour
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil

Note: this is basically the same recipe from the last time I made falafel. The differences are a few more spices and I baked them (for an easy cook process) vs. pan frying. Both ways are delicious!

Do:
In a food processor, combine onion, chickpeas, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, pepper and salt. Pulse/blend until combined. Note: You don't want it to be completely smooth, just combined and chopped.
Transfer to a bowl and add the flour. With a spoon, or your hands, combine flour into mixture then add the first 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Mix well and look for desired texture.

Desired texture is somewhere between not too sticky and not too dry. You want to be able to easily roll it into about 1 1/2 inch balls without too much stick. But you do want to lean toward 'wet' vs. dry, in order to keep them moist during the bake process. Use the remaining panko as needed.

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375. Place all your 1 1/2 inch falafel balls on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a little more salt, ensuring that all falafel balls are covered with olive oil. I drizzled them and then shook the pan so they all rolled around in the olive oil.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes then check and roll/flip so the balls brown evenly Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking and rolling the balls every few minutes to ensure even browning. At the end of the last 10 to 15 minutes, check your falafel. If they are brown and crispy, turn off oven and prepare to package. They will continue to cook a bit and you definitely don't want them to dry out. If they are not brown and crispy on the outside, cook for additional 5 minute increments until toasty. If they are soft feeling when you press them, that's ok.

Serve:
If you're traveling with your falafel, like I was, put in a tupperware container but do not cover. If you cover they will sweat and get soggy. I just put the lid in the basket to use later.

If you're eating right away, serve with tabouleh, hummus and pita. Also, a good peppery red wine is always a great pairing.

Enjoy!



6 comments:

  1. This is such a colorful and beautiful dish! I bet it is equally as delicious :)
    Aren't wine clubs so fun? My husband and I are members of four wine clubs and we LOVE receiving our shipments and visiting their tasting rooms. It's been so long since we went though!

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  2. Oh this Peen loves you. And that meal was beyond fabulous... just like you! xoxo

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  3. So pretty. What a fresh, tasty meal.

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  4. I'm kinda new to quinoa, so its good to see its versatility.

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  5. Roxan... thank you! And yes, they are so fun! Seriously cheap entertainment :) thank you so much for stopping by :)

    Abby... :) So glad you guys liked it!

    Briarrose... thank you :) You are so right... fresh & healthy. Can't go wrong!

    Mangocheeks... quinoa is the best! Typically tabouleh isn't made with it but I thought I'd branch out. I use it for all kinds of things, to give meals a protein kick! Thank you for stopping by!!

    Amber... thank you!! I love that you love it and that you visit and comment :)

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