Falafel, the Middle Eastern chickpea fritter, earned a recent mention in this blog.
Extolling the virtues of chickpeas, I revisited my family’s fondness for falafel, particularly when summer cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh herbs are handy in the garden. For a slightly richer version, I like to pair falafel in pita with sautéed summer squash, eggplant and mushrooms.
But one of the most satisfying variations is falafel as a salad. When I topped a big bed of greens with freshly fried chickpea fritters, a lemony-herby vinaigrette and pita croutons, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing it all along.
Achieving the perfect falafel texture has been my greatest challenge with this dish over the years. On more than one occasion, my fritters have started to fall apart. So I was intrigued to see this “hash,” which dispenses with forming falafel into patties and provides the textural contrast of mashed and whole chickpeas.
Served with a salad and roasted vegetables, this recipe originates with Purple Carrot, the first exclusively vegan meal-kit delivery service to hit the market. With components of roasted eggplant, tabbouleh, arugula and pita accompanying the hash, this plays like a mezze plate and also would make a nice, cold or room-temperature starter to summer meals.
Falafel Hash With Grapefruit-Arugula Tabbouleh
1/4 cup bulgur
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces eggplant
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Handful fresh parsley
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 whole-wheat pitas
2 ounces baby arugula
Handful fresh mint
Heat oven to 400 F. In a small pot, combine the bulgur, 1/2 cup water and pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let seep. Check for doneness in 15 minutes; water should be absorbed.
Grease a rimmed pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Rinse and trim the eggplant, then slice into 4-inch-long sticks. Spread out on pan, sprinkle with the za’atar and salt. Roast in preheated oven, turning once, until brown, for 20 to 30 minutes.
Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drain and rinse the chickpeas; add to skillet. Trim, peel and chop the onion. Add to pan along with the cumin, coriander, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Add the chopped garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir mixture, then crush about half of chickpeas with a fork or masher. Cook, undisturbed, until bottom is crisp and brown, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Rinse, trim and dry the parsley, then chop leaves. Rinse and halve the lemons. Add parsley and juice of 1 lemon to chickpea mixture, stir, taste and adjust seasoning. In small bowl, whisk together the tahini, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons water and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; let sit. Wrap the pitas in foil and warm in oven, for 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer cooked bulgur to a large mixing bowl. Rinse and peel the grapefruit, cut flesh from core and chop it, removing any seeds. Rinse, dry and chop arugula as finely as you like. Rinse and dry the mint; strip leaves from stems and chop them. Add grapefruit, arugula, mint, juice of 1/2 lemon, remaining 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to bowl. Toss well, taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve tabbouleh with falafel hash and eggplant alongside; pass pitas and tahini sauce at the table.
Makes 2 to 3 servings.