I have a long and interesting history with peas. As a child, my mother tells me that I once shoved a pea up my nose. (The other interesting childhood story about me related to the pea homophone, “pee,” is that I once slept walk into the living room thinking that it was the bathroom and proceeded to pee on the coffee table as my parents watched — slack-jawed, no doubt.) I now realize that kids do some weird stuff and I’m glad to know that I contributed.
And as it happens in life, I have been paid back for my contributions. My own daughter once projectile vomited peas all over me. And when I was very pregnant with her brother, she decided to shove a tiny Polly Pocket shoe up her nose, which allowed me to learn a handy first aid trick that my Mom probably could have used. After trying to get the shoe out by having her blow her nose (she was 4, so every time I said “Blow,” she sniffed it in even further), I called the doctor and got this gem: when your child decides to shove something up his/her nose (which they will), close the unobstructed nostril with your finger and then cover his/her mouth with your mouth and blow hard — like you are giving them mouth to mouth resuscitation. The shoe or pea will fly right out of there. You are welcome in advance.
(I wonder if any writer in the history of the world has ever had to make the transition between toy or legume-obstructed nostrils and falafel. We are clearly making history here.)
So, falafel. I love it. One of our favorite restaurants in town, Otto’s Pub and Brewery, had some of the best falafel I’ve ever had. Or, at 9.2% alcohol content, maybe it was the Double D IPA that made my memories of it so warm and fuzzy. It’s no longer on the menu, so I have to get my fix elsewhere. I decided to try my own version for spring that would include sweet green peas, lots of garlic, creamy minted cucumbers, and a smoky sour cream sauce.
This version did not disappoint and it’s easy enough (provided you aren’t afraid of a little frying) for a weeknight meal. So easy, in fact, that I think I’ll include it in the Cuizoo Arsenal. It is equally good on a salad, in a pita, or wrap. On its own, it makes a great party appetizer. And I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet you could make these up and freeze them in quantities for a quick meal. My leftovers are getting re-purposed for a chopped salad tonight with baby romaine, more cucumbers, avocado, and maybe some spicy toasted pumpkin seeds.
All of which will hopefully go into (and stay in) the appropriate orifices.
Sweet Pea Falafel with Minted Cucumber Salad
3 cups garbanzo beans (almost two cans), drained
1 cup peas (fresh or thawed frozen)
3 T parsley, chopped
3 T cilantro, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 t salt
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t cumin
1/8 t chipotle powder (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper
1 t baking powder
5 T flour
Vegetable oil (something mild tasting)
Warm Pita Bread
Thinly sliced onion
Minted Cucumbers (3-4 peeled, seeded, and sliced cucumbers tossed with a bit of salt, pepper, chopped fresh mint, and 1-2 T sour cream)
Extra fresh mint
Smoky Sour Cream Sauce (1/2 cup of sour cream with a bit of salt and 1/4 t smoked paprika)
1. In the bowl of a food processor, add garbanzos, peas, parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices. Pulse until it is well combined and sticks together — but not entirely pureed like hummus. It should still have some coarseness and texture to it. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times to get it to combine — do not be tempted to add liquid to make it process easier. Transfer to a bowl and stir in baking powder and flour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to several hours.
2. Remove falafel mixture from refrigerator and form into small patties or balls. I think smaller patties tend to stay together the best and require less oil to fry. Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until it is about 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry 4-6 falafel patties at a time, for about 2-3 minutes per side until they are golden brown. Keep warm on a cookie sheet in the oven while you fry the remainder of the falafel (making sure oil is back up to temperature before frying the next batch).
3. To serve, take one half of a pita and place two falafel patties in it with several spoonfuls of the minted cucumbers, a few sliced onions, several leaves of mint, and a drizzle of the sour cream sauce.