Monday, January 28, 2013

Meatless Monday - Mediterranean Feast

We love Mediterranean food and have it often at home.  The things we prepare are mostly vegetarian, so why not have them on Meatless Monday???

So here's whats on my dinner menu: baked falafel patties, whole wheat pita bread and pita chips, cilantro lime hummus, sliced veggies, tabouli, and garlicky sauteed baby greens.  So yummy!  Always a home run around here. 

To be completely honest, it was the very first time I've ever made hummus.  I know!  Unbelievable, but I always just purchase it pre-made from the store.  Now that I've done it, I'm never going back.  It was super simple and tasted SOOOO much better.  Now I can play around with all the flavors too.  The hummus was really great - so fresh tasting, and you couldn't pick out the lime and cilantro flavors. 

The tabouli was store bought, although I have made it several times from scratch (sorry - I haven't posted that recipe yet).  I prefer the Good Neighbors brand.  I sliced some of our favorite veggies to dip in the hummus,  and set out a few whole wheat pita wedges and chips. 

The trick to preparing the falafels was to make them yummy without deep frying, as most are.  The falafel patties were not from scratch, but I found a new mix that is now my favorite.  It doesn't dry out and has no weird additives or preservatives that I couldn't identify.  I've tried cooking falafels a number of different ways at home, none of them deep fried.  Even though I love them pan fried, it still uses more oil than I would like.  So then came baking - most recipes or mixes dry out and crumble up - gross!  These were great!!!  My perfected baking method is an excellent substitute to pan frying or deep frying and I used less than 1/4 cup of oil for 10 falafel patties. 

Lastly, the sauteed greens were an add on because I always like my meal to be at least half vegetables.  Plus, we love sauteed greens and haven't had them at dinner in a while.

Happy Cooking!

Hummus with Lime & Cilantro
Original recipe, inspired by several recipes I found:

1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove of garlic, minced (I used my garlic press)
2 T tahini (sesame seed paste)
juice of 1/2 lime
2 T fresh cilantro
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup water
more olive oil for drizzling
The cast of characters
Place everything in a food processor, starting with only 1/4 cup of the water.  Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed, and add more water if necessary. 
This is what the finished product looks like - so fresh and yummy!
Place in a decorative bowl and drizzle with 1 T olive oil.  Serve at room temperature or cold with fresh veggies, pita chips, or pita bread.  Enjoy!

Baked Falafel Patties
1 pkg of falafel mix, follow the directions on the package regarding how much water to add
1/4 cup of olive oil (although you probably won't use it all)
cooking spray

So here is the mix I found in my grocery store - new to me.  Never tried it before, and it was the best I've tried at home.  Highly recommend!!!

The trick to baked falafels is to form patties, not the balls that are traditionally dropped in the deep fryer.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Scoop the falafel mix out and drop onto sheet, forming a patty, (about 2 -3T of mix per patty).  I have an olive oil carafe that allows me to slowly drizzle limited amounts of olive oil.  If you have one, use this.  If not, use a oil mister or even a basting brush to help you evenly distribute the olive oil.   Lightly drizzle or brush some olive oil on each patty.  Bake at 400 for 8 min.  Flip patties, drizzle or brush on more olive oil and broil on low until golden brown, as pictured below.

At this point you could flip and try another couple minutes under the broiler, but I was afraid of the patties drying out.

Serve with a side of tahini, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.  Or make a falafel pita with 1/2 pita, 1-2 patties, 1-2T tahini, lettuce, tomato, onion and other toppings to taste (I've had pickles, cucumbers, feta, olives, the possibilities are endless).

Garlicky Sauteed Greens
1 pkg of greens (16 oz), your choice
1 small clove of garlic, minced (or more if you really like garlic)
salt to taste
cooking spray
These are new greens my store just started carrying - had to try, but baby kale and baby spinach are some of my favorites.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds to a minute.  Do not over saute or burn.  Add the greens, sprinkle with salt and turn in the pan as they begin to wilt.  You may need to add the greens in stages if they do not all fit.  Once they have all wilted, take off the heat and serve immediately.

So Finally - a picture of the feast!  So yummy and so many flavors.  Enjoy!

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