That’s not really a word we’re used to throwing around in these parts. I mean, why take apart a perfectly good dish?! We’re far more likely to build a casserole than to neatly arrange small bits of food in a semi-circle. But, you know what? Sometimes, it pays to try something new.As we were planning this week’s meals, Sarra suddenly had a flash of inspiration, and it was brilliant. What about falafel?! Roasted garbanzo beans! Vegetables! Pita wedges! These are all things we like! These are all things I can say loudly!
Like most of the meals we make, fresh vegetables are key. We got lettuce, tomato, cucumber, parsley, and garlic at the last Lake Forest Park market of the year (we’re very sad about Farmer’s Market season coming to an end). Add to it a few staples, and you have one delicious deconstructed falafel sandwich.
To put this together, I started with roasting the chickpeas with a little oil and a dash of salt, adding a generous sprinkling of a za’atar spice blend about 5 minutes before they were finished. The spice blend was something we picked up at Goodies, our local Mediterranean market. Since it’s cast iron week, I roasted them in a cast iron skillet until they were beautiful and golden.
I heated pieces of whole wheat pita bread in a cast iron grill pan. The grill pan was perfect – the striped char marks on the bread tell the whole story. Just enough char to flavor the bread, but not so much that it tasted acrid. Cast iron pans – is there anything they can’t do?
I cut up the vegetables, and arranged them neatly on a plate. I piled the chickpeas in one corner. I arranged wedges of the perfectly grilled bread on another. A quick sauce – plain yogurt, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice whizzed together in a food processor – was poured into a small dish for presentation. Boy, did this turn into a pretty plate.
What good is all this beauty if it doesn’t taste good, though? So we grabbed our plates and started to eat. The verdict? Delicious! Every bite was bursting with fresh flavors: sweet tomatoes balanced with sharp garlic, cool yogurt clung to crisp lettuce leaves, and the floral herbiness of the za’atar sat magnificently at the center of the flavor profile. Look at that! It was so good, I’m talking like a hipster foodie!
I think I’d call this challenge a success.