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falafel

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

This is essentially a recipe for baked falafel. But to me, if the batter isn’t crisped up in the deep-fryer, it’s not falafel.

So I present you instead with “baked herbed chickpea bites”. The name, I know, could use a little work. But they’re delicious, I promise.

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

These are best served aside a creamy dip. Pick the tahini-based sauce of your choice. Hummus, baba ganoush, or even just a simple sesame-garlic-lemon sauce will all serve you well.

To make the latter, finely mince a small clove of garlic and whisk it into several large spoonfuls of tahini. Add a pinch of salt. Squeeze in a wedge or two of lemon. Then add warm water, as needed, to thin it out.

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

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Swiss Chard Falafel

Swiss Chard

I should probably admit upfront, these err a tad more on the side of fritters than falafel. But I hate a dry, dense ball of falafel, so in my mind, the characteristics of these are what the word “falafel” should always mean.

Falafel should be as moist as the fresh chickpeas you put into it. It should mean a circular or ovular sphere flavorful enough to snack on as it is, even if a little bit of yogurt sauce or hummus elevates it to a whole other level. I.e., a truly good falafel should be the shining star in the pita you pack it in, radiating brighter than all else that lays beside it.

Swiss Chard Falafel

It’s simply impossible to deny how beautiful of a veggie swiss chard is. I’ve expressed before my love of pinks when it comes to produce, and the photographing of it. Beets and radishes, while not necessarily my favorite flavors of the veggie kingdom, stand among my all-time most beloved subjects to photograph. (Apologies in advance to my friend Laura. And my 90-year-old grandpa. And the random boys in my life. All of which are other favorite photo subjects in my life – but I’m telling you, beets and radishes make for some steadfast competition.)

Swiss Chard

The magenta lines that stream down a leaf of swiss chard, the veins not unlike our own that bring this veggie to life, make it a mesmerizing sight. Its yellow veins, too. Although if I had to choose, I’d of course go for the pink. There’s just something about those pinks when you get them in front of a camera. Born to be (still life) models, I tell you.

Swiss Chard Falafel

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. Breakfast for dinner has been popping up more often than I’d like, as is thrown together bowls of beans, rice, herbs, and avocado. (Although – if that avocado is a magically flawless and ripe specimen, forget the hesitancy and tone of complaint emanating from that last sentence. Hand me a ripe avocado, and I’ll be a happy kid forever.)

I never thought I’d be one to say this, but busyness has led me to allow cooking to fall by the side of the road for a few. Plus, it’s summer, and I enjoy nothing more than eating outside. And if this means scoping out all the restaurants with outdoor seating, then so be it. Cooking can be put on pause for a few.

However, you know as well as I do, I do love cooking. And so I return, by the sight of a healthy looking bunch of swiss chard.

Swiss Chard Falafel

I picked this bunch of from the store and immediately had ideas start to come to me from left and right. There’s nothing like a little ingredient inspiration to draw you out of a slight cooking hiatus.

It’d been forever since I made falafel, so that’s the idea I went with. Don’t ask me how swiss chard led my brain to falafel – but it worked out well. I mean, why not add some green power to falafel? Tastes great, looks decent, and kills it on the “you should really make this meal more nutritious” level.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard’s back in style. Every farmers’ market table will be wearing it pretty soon. Get some while you can. Admire it’s beauty for a day. Or 15 minutes on your cutting board. Then chop it all and throw it into this falafel recipe.

These are definitely snackable on their own, but I love the pairing with the yogurt/herb sauce. You choose whether to pack them in a pita, or throw them with some brown rice. Either one you go with, drizzle a little tahini on top, and voila. A truly golden, slightly green meal.

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