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Grilled Falafel

By 3FC

Notes:
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, UNDER THE GRILL

from the American Institute for Cancer Research

An ancient Middle Eastern snack food can be turned into a good, light American dinner.

Falafel are small, deep-fried balls made of spicy ground beans. Crunchy on the outside and moist and tender inside, they’re usually tucked into pita bread and served with a yogurt-based sauce.

By taking falafel out of the frying pan and putting them under the grill, this side dish can be enjoyed with less fat but with full flavor.

Although falafel is considered the national food of Israel, it is thought to have its roots in ancient Egypt. Israelis make falafel with chickpeas, and Egyptians use fava beans.

Chickpeas are larger than green peas and have a firm texture and mild nutty flavor. Also called garbanzo beans and ceci, they are used extensively in dishes of the Middle East, Mediterranean and India.

They are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, iron, zinc and many other important minerals. They contain a group of phytochemicals, isoflavones, that may help prevent hormone-related cancers. Chickpeas are available canned, dried and, in some places, fresh.

The following recipe for grilled falafel uses chickpeas because they are creamy, and includes rice, which keeps the patties moist while binding them well. Grilling the patties produces tasty, low-fat falafel that’s crisp on the outside and moist inside. This method works equally well outdoors on the grill, or indoors in a skillet or under a broiler.