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meatless monday

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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Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Ever feel like if you eat another spoonful of tahini or drizzle of toasted sesame oil, you’ll turn into the seed its made from? Or that you eat so much coconut curry there’s no way you shouldn’t already be sitting on the next plane to Thailand? Maybe for you it’s cumin and chili powder. Rice and beans. Turmeric and chickpeas.

Perhaps it’s none of things – but all I know is that as a vegetarian, it’s rare I’m cooking something other than ethnic cuisine. Usually it’s Asian-inspired. Usually there’s tahini involved. Usually I’m a happy camper.

Sometimes, however, I just crave something more, I don’t know, American? After maple-tahini on my oatmeal, and soy sauce/tahini/sesame oil on my lunchtime beans and grains, I have to tell myself to step away from the tahini jar. I’m telling you – lately it’s been going on everything, and dare I say, might just be outcompeting peanut butter in my diet.

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

I can’t tell you how American┬átempeh is, but I’m fairly certain Old Bay is the country’s seasoning of the summer. So forget pizza, forget pasta. My non-Asian oriented meal is going to have tempeh, and I’m going to label it American. You can call it otherwise, I really don’t care. (In this case, perhaps an American flag would’ve made a better table setting than the Mexican blanket I used…)

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Come summertime, throw some corn cobs on the grill, this tempeh on the stove, a beer in your hand, and a fresh tomato salad onto the side section of your plate, and then you can give me your answer. I’m already dreaming of this day as I type. Count me in for summer seasonings and garden-fresh sides all season long. (We’ll see if this can kick my tahini habit to a once-per-day max.)

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