The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 05.24.05


Falafel Days

I like to make things easy after an active spring day and do not want to leave what I am doing early to go inside and prepare a dish. Tossing a salad is all right and barbecuing is okay. I just don't want hassles with complicated dishes. Also, I am not much of a leftover person and that can sometimes make deciding on a dinner dish wearisome.

That's when I reach for things like pita breads, tortilla wraps, dips, and finger foods. Out come the pickles and olives, condiments, crackers, and peppers. Trust me when I say that I have lots at the ready and I'm not opposed to a can of smoked herring, oysters, or even sardines on occasion. In fact, sardines make for a very easy and nutritious snack -- particularly for women who need as much calcium and omega 3 vitamins as possible.

Spring is a good time to load up on veggies and an easy Lebanese vegetarian dish can be made that combines protein-rich legumes with a garlicky sauce, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.

Falafel is as popular in some cultures and circles as the hamburger and is as healthy as it gets.

The primary ingredient is chickpeas and many recipes call for soaking the dry versions overnight. I cheat and use canned when making them by hand but one can really save time by using perfectly acceptable dried mixes available everywhere in the ethnic foods section of your grocery. Just add water to the mix, form the falafel and fry them up early in the week or day and you will have plenty for sandwiches and salads later. Stuff any raw veggies you desire into the pitas.

Try delicious middle-eastern Falafel Pita to load up with lots of spring- cleaning energy. Don't forget the sauce.

You'll need four falafel per pita (depending on how large you make them) and an assortment of crisp veggies such as tomatoes, cucumber, salad, and onions, fresh pita bread, and this sauce.

Open the pita bread halves to make pockets (don't split all the way) and put four fried falafel into each. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and layer with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Tahini Sauce 1/2 cup Tahini (sesame seed paste available in ethnic foods section).
1/2 cup plain yogurt or water
1 lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch salt
pinch paprika

Combine all the tahini sauce ingredients in a blender, process on high speed to make a smooth and creamy sauce. Adjust seasoning, to taste.