Family get together’s are the best excuse to cook, try the things you wouldn’t necessarily find the time to test out and generally have fun with your cooking. When we had a family get together a few weeks back, me and Mum decided to cook up a Middle Eastern storm with houmous, falafel and tabbouleh salad at the top of the menu. As the spring is supposedly on it’s way (where are you? I can see you, but you tease us so much) light salads and dips were at the forefront of our minds. The day was meant to be beautiful, so our salad and light bites theme would have fitted in well, but as always, the ‘Great British Weather’ firmly gave us the finger and refused to play along with our scenario. Spoilsport.
Thank you to culinary GOD Jamie Oliver, as without him our contribution to the lunch would have been questionable. I was so excited to make both houmous and falafel and it’s a combination I’ve always wanted to try to make myself, after falling in love with the falafel boxes from the Eat-a-Pitta shop in Bristol’s St Nick’s market. I love the crunchy texture, the creamy houmous and the additional extras you get with it. Unfortunately, I can’t quite grasp the same experience in my own kitchen, as I think you need to be cooking them in a hut in an indoor market, but I’d give it a ruddy good go.
For the houmous:
- 2 x 400g cans of chickpeas (reserve the liquid and a few chickpeas for decoration)
- 4 tsp tahini
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp crushed sea salt
- 6 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
- 3½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Coriander or parsley leaves (optional)
Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and tip into the food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, salt, lemon juice and seven tablespoons of the reserved liquid from the cans. Turn on the food processor and slowly pour in the oil while it runs.
When the mixture is fully combined and smooth, tip it into a serving dish, or in my case, a chinese takeaway carton. Drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil and decorate with a few whole chickpeas. Sprinkle with finely chopped coriander or parsley leaves, for colour.
et viola! creamy houmous and it was made in ten minutes! there is also a gallon of the stuff, so be prepared to be eating this for a good few days afterwards. I used mine for lunch a few days later!
I’m going to keep going with falafel, as it didn’t quite turn out how I hoped. The mixture was too runny to deep fry and then it was dried out when it baked in the oven. My dreams of crunchy falafel were crushed like the garlic I had to hand and I was left with dry, but still tasty falafel. If at first you don’t succeed….
- 1 x 400 g tin of mixed beans
- 1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1 heaped teaspoon allspice
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
- 1 bunch fresh coriander
- olive oil
Drain the beans and chickpeas and put them into the processor. Finely grate in the lemon zest, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, the harissa, allspice, flour and coriander stalks (reserving the leaves). Blitz until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor if needed. Scrape out the mixture and use clean, wet hands to quickly divide and shape it into 8 patties about 1.5cm thick, if you’re feeling brave to fry, put 1 tablespoon of oil into the frying pan and add the falafels, turning when golden and crisp. If you think they are too wet to fry, add the patties to a baking tray and cook for ten minutes on 180 degrees.
I forgot to photograph them, but they are at the bottom of the picture at the end of the post!
I’m trying to make an effort to include pulses into my diet, bulgur wheat isn’t a pulse I’m not familiar with, but Mum wanted to make a refreshing salad to balance out the other middle eastern flavours from the falafel and houmous. This is best left overnight to let the flavours combine.
- 2 cups of bulgur wheat
- 3 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 oz flat leaf parsley
- half bunch of mint
- 2 lemons
- 150ml olive oil
- 1/2 block of feta cheese
- packet of pomegranate seeds
- radishes (optional)
- celery (optional)
Soak the bulger wheat in 450ml boiling water, once soaked, drain and squeeze water out. Add the deseeded tomatoes, peeled cucumber, chopped onions and garlic and stir through. Then add the parsley and mint and then juice of the lemons. Top with 150ml of olive oil and stir all the way through. If you want to leave it overnight, over it in cling film and chill. In the morning, crumble the feta cheese over the salad and top with the pomegranate seeds.
This was clearly pre feta! Serve with the houmous, falafel, if you wanted some flatbreads. The salad is super refreshing and light and I’m looking forward to eating my way through the summer with it!
Add to a huge table of homemade goodies (we also maked quiche, avocado and feta dip, pies and other salads) surround by family and laughter and serve with a dollop of love!