Category: cilantro

Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Alright, so I have a confession to make. This dish actually started out as an italian-style meatless meatball dish. It was supposed to be covered in tomato sauce and smothered in cheese and served on top of a plate of spaghetti. But, with an ice storm a brewin’ outside, I did not feel safe venturing out to get the handful of ingredients that I was missing. So, I decided to just make a few changes and use whatever I had on hand. Basil became cilantro. Beans became chickpeas. And then, somewhere along substitution road, my meatless meatballs in tomato sauce became meatless falafel in yogourt sauce. Let me tell you, whatever you want to call them, these little babies are 100% pure deliciousness.
  
Just a few things to note before you go off and make this. You MUST roast the eggplant the whole way through. No if’s and’s or but’s, the roasted eggplant has a flavour and texture that is crucial to the texture of the final product.  Also, the chickpeas are what give it that distinct falafel taste, so if you decide to sub them for something else, you’re going to have a very different little ball! Oh, and be sure to use greek yogourt (I prefer to use 2% as it’s creamy but still low in fat, but you can use any % that you like.) Vegan? No fret! Omit the yogourt sauce and replace it with some red hot sauce instead. Alright, let’s get ballin’!
Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce
An original recipe by Allison Sklar. Inspired by Meatless Meatballs, Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015.
ingredients
(for the vegan falafel)
1 large eggplant, roasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy or nut milk
2 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
pinch salt & pepper
(for the yogurt sauce)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable juice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp harissa paste 
handful chopped fresh cilantro
Begin by roasting your eggplant. Preheat oven to 375F. Place whole eggplant on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Prick eggplant with fork all over. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it looks wilted on the outside and is soft enough to slice easily with a knife. Let eggplant cool, about 15 to 20 minutes, before using. 
Meanwhile, prepare the broth for the yogurt sauce. In a small saucepan, combine spices and harissa paste. Toast on medium low heat until fragrant (2 to 4 minutes), moving it all around with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add vegetable juice & cilantro and whisk. Continue whisking intermittently on low heat until mixture reduces, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. (You may transfer to fridge once it’s cool enough!)
While the mixture is cooling, prepare your “chia egg.” (This is your binding agent!) Combine milk with chia seeds and let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is slightly gelatinous. 
Now, it’s time to make the falafel! Mash chickpeas very well with a fork. Mix together with breadcrumbs, cilantro and garlic. Once the eggplant is roasted and cooled, scoop out the inside, discarding the skin. Mash as well as you can, and incorporate it into the breadcrumb mixture. Add in the chia egg, and use your hands to bring it all together. 
Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on the outside. 
Combine cooled broth with yogourt, mixing well. 
Serve hot falafel with cool yogourt sauce. Use more fresh cilantro to garnish if desired. 
NOTE: Short on time? No fret! Here are a couple of suggestions…
You can roast the eggplant the day before. 
You can skip the broth part of the yogurt sauce if you want to, and instead, just mix yogourt with a couple of tsp of harissa or sriracha! Instant spicy yogurt!


Dill-icious (Quick & Healthy Crispbreads)

Ahhh… the holidays. Between shopping, wrapping, cooking, planning, organising, cleaning, shovelling, discovering that you’ve got a big hole in the toe of your boot only after you step into a puddle of slush… sometimes it begins to feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. Many people also tend to pack on the pounds at this time of year, going from one gathering to the next, stuffing their faces with greasy fried appetizers and pounding back the cocktails. If you’re nodding your head at these statements, beware: the combination of stress and bad eating is sure to leave you feeling bloated, nauseated, and all-around sluggish.
Stop! Breathe. Relax. Enter simplicity. Allow me to make your entertaining a little easier and a little healthier this year, with a few ideas for homemade, nutritious hors d’oeuvres that’ll wow your guests, and please everyone – from the foodies to the health-conscious.
Instructions: Start with a box of Kavli Crispy Thin, FinnCrisp Rye Crisps (or any other crispbread that you like), top with spread of choice, and finish with a sprinkle of spice & a chopped herb. Pictured above: Dill, greek yogourt & cumin crisps. Super easy, super healthy, super fast.
Why crispbread? 
Ordinary store-bought crackers are often loaded with fats, oils and contain sodium levels that are off the charts. Don’t even be fooled by the ‘multi-grain’ variety! Multi-grain often only means that they’ve taken your ordinary white-flour cracker and thrown in a few flax and sesame seeds – these additions do nothing to lower the high fat, salt or carb content, and the majority of the calories are coming from refined white flour. Now, I won’t deny how delicious a Ritz cracker is, but that’s the danger: at nearly 1g of fat EACH, a handful of these crackers contains the same amount of fat as an entire chocolate bar, and will fill you with over 200 calories – yet they will not leave you feeling full in the least.
And then there’s crispbread: these thin topable delights generally have just a few simple ingredients and contain nothing artificial. They’re often made from rye flour, which is much easier to digest than wheat and significantly more nutritious. 6 Kavli crispy thins offer up 4g of dietry fibre (to keep you feeling fuller longer), contain zero grams of fat, and have only 100 calories all together. Top them with a spoonful of non-fat greek yogourt (loaded with protein), a sprinkle of cumin and some chopped fresh dill, and you’ve got yourself a pretty, easy, and nutritious hors d’oeuvre. These also make an excellent light lunch or dinner, or a healthy midnight snack.
Other topping ideas
  • Start by spreading one tbsp of greek yogourt on your crackers, and top with any of the following combinations of veggies, fruit & herbs…
    • shredded beets & sea salt
    • black beans & cilantro
    • corn kernels, chopped tomato & cilantro
    • sliced olives & oregano
    • cucumber slices & dill
    • apple slices, cinnamon & nutmeg
    • lemon zest & honey
    • shredded carrot, ginger & cinnamon
    • slivered almonds & agave nectar

Eat Your Veggies (and your burgers, too!)

Veggie burgers are not hamburger substitutes, I don’t care what any restaurant claims. You can fire grill it, BBQ it, smother it with ketchup until you can barely taste it, but in the end, it’s just not a beef patty. It’s a veggie patty. Now, to my knowledge, chicken burgers do not try to be beef burgers and broccoli doesn’t attempt to replace steak. So I must ask then, why do so many ground soy products strive to be “just like beef?” When I eat veggie burgers, I do so because I enjoy the burger itself. I do not eat them in order to replace a hamburger. If I wanted a hamburger, I’d eat a hamburger. A major factor that sent me on the path to vegetarianism was that I did not enjoy the taste nor the texture of meat – so why on earth would I want to eat a highly processed product that was masquerading around, pretending to be that demon that I tried so hard to avoid?

That being said, let me tell you something about veggie burgers – some of them, and I emphasize some, are really quite delicious. It’s when people begin to expect that their veggie burger should taste like meat that they are disappointed, and all possibilities of enjoyment are thrown out the window. The thing that makes veggie burgers fun is that there are so many different varieties that can be prepared.  My all time favorite vegetarian burger was one made of lentils. I feasted on this fantastic creation at a trendy comfort-chic spot in Montreal – a place where you can order a 20$ hamburger alongside a glass of Dom Perignon, all off of a menu that’s written on a chalkboard.
I really love this city.

Today, inspired by my “buy-nothing” week, a long and deep stare into my kitchen pantry brought me to the conclusion that I stock a lot of beans and legumes, but I rarely eat them. I decided it was time to change that. A little inspiration from the January issue of Chatelaine is allowing me to present to you, the superfantastic Pinto & Black Bean Burger! At about 150 calories each, chock full of fibre, and of course, filled with the antioxidant power of black beans, you’ll wonder how on earth something that is so good for you can be so delicious!

GLUTEN FREE NOTE: You can make this gluten free by omitting the breadcrumbs and substituting a few crushed gluten-free crackers instead. 

Two Bean Burger
adapted from Chatelaine magazine
what you’ll need
1/2 cup uncooked short pasta
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 of a 540 mL can pinto beans, rinsed, drained and patted dry
1/2 of a 540 mL can black beans, rinsed, drained and patted dry
1/4 cup ketchup or bbq sauce, or both
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (more if batter is too sticky).
2 tbsp oil (for cooking)
how to do it
Cook pasta in until very soft, 15 min.  Drain cooked pasta and rinse under cold running water. Dry pasta with paper towels, soaking up as much water as possible. Place pasta, onion, pinto beans, ketchup, cilantro, garlic, juice and salt in a large food processor. Pulse until smooth. Stir in black beans and breadcrumbs. Shape into patties. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium. Add 1 tbsp oil, then 3 patties. Cook for 3 min, then flip patties and cook until firm, about 3 more min. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve on a bun, or with a sauce or gravy on top!