One of my favorite things about cooking is how it brings people together. I always feel so warm and fuzzy inside after cooking with friends (though it could be the wine we usually consume!)
My friends Jen, Frank and I had talked forever about making dinner together one night, and we finally got around to it recently! Frank offered to host and get the groceries and Jen and I took care of the cooking.
There were a few challenges to planning out the menu as one of us has a dairy allergy/leans vegan and Frank is, as his name suggests a boy, and not to stereotype men but he doesn’t exactly have a fully stocked kitchen when it comes to gadgets, pans, pots, even knives. When asked if he had a food processor, Frank responded with, “What’s that?” and I had to send him a picture. But we worked through all this and made a great meal!
For dinner we decided on making falafel and then serving it with pita, a yogurt sauce, salad and a vegan apple crisp for dessert. To give the falafel a healthy update, we wanted to give baking instead of frying it a shot and after a lot of searching, I found a great recipe on a new fave blog Eat Real. Turns out, it still tastes great and it’s a lot better for you!
To start the falafel, get out your food processor! Place the garlic, cilantro, parsley, chickpeas and bread crumbs in the bowl and cover, pulsing a few times to chop. Then add a tablespoon of lemon juice and pulse a few more times. Add the baking powder, cumin, salt, some tabasco and more lemon juice so the blades don’t get stuck/too weighted down and then mix until a paste-like consistency.
Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with foil and brushing them with olive oil. Using a tablespoon measuring cup, scoop out some of the falafel mix and then form it into patties with your hands. Then arrange the patties on a baking sheet and brush their tops with oil too.
Bake the patties for about 15-20 minutes, flipping them half way through. Remove them from the oven with the tops are nice and browned and let them cool for a few minutes.
While the falafel was baking we whipped up the yogurt sauce to go with it and prepped the apple crisp for baking.
For the yogurt sauce all you do is combine non-fat greek yogurt, fat-free sour cream, minced garlic, dill, lemon juice, salt and some chopped cucumber in a bowl and mix well! Place it in the fridge to stay cool until the falafel is done.
Then we prepped the crisp! We timed everything so that while we ate our main course the apple crisp baked. This apple crisp is so easy! And by using margarine instead of butter, also vegan friendly. I have made a similar crisp/crumble using rhubarb in the past and it always turns out yummy.
Once again you will need your food processor. In the bowl, you combine some flour, sugar, brown sugar and margarine/butter. You pulse a few times until you have a crumbly consistency. Set this mixture aside.
Then, in a large bowl, combine chopped and peeled granny smith apples with a bit of apple cider, sugar, lemon juice, flour and cinnamon. Stirring until well combined.
Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and pour the apple mixture into the pan. Then sprinkle it with the crumb topping.
Once the falafel was done baking, we popped the crisp in the oven and got ready to eat!
I have to say, our spread was pretty great!
After we had thoroughly demolished the falafel, pita, salad, hummus and veggies, wine, etc….we somehow managed to have room for dessert!
This was a great meal to make with friends! We tried something new, but at the same time, it wasn’t too difficult that we couldn’t execute it all together and without killing each other/taking hours. I definitely recommend the falafel recipe for a healthy update to a favorite and the crisp is always a good go to easy dessert!
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 cups (16 oz) chickpeas
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used the panko variety)
2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cumin 1 tsp salt
1 tsp tabasco sauce, red or green kind
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh
1 cucumber, finely diced
Salt to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 450º
Place garlic, cilantro, parsley, chickpeas and bread crumbs in your food processor
Pulse a few times to chop everything up
Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and pulse a bit more
Then add the baking powder, cumin, salt, tabasco and additional lemon juice
Pulse the mixture until it has a nice and paste-like consistency
Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and brush it with olive oil
Taking a large tablespoon, scoop the mixture and form it into patties
Place the patties on the baking sheet and then brush the topes with olive oil so they don’t burn
Bake the patties for 15-20 minutes, flipping them half-way through, until they are golden brown on top
While the patties are baking, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well
Cover the sauce and chill in the fridge until ready to serve
Remove the patties from the oven when they are done and let cool for a few minutes before serving with pita, sauce and other veggies
Yields 4 servings
Apple Cider Crisp (Adapted from Weight Watchers)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup butter or margarine, chilled and broken into smaller pieces
7 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 375º
Combine crumble topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly
Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently until everything is well coated
Spoon mixture into a 8-inch square baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and top with crumble mixture
Bake for 40 minutes
Yields 8 servings