falafel

My twin told me numerous times that I’d love the “deep-fried goodness” that is falafel, however his description made me think they were fried hummus balls and I can only eat so much hummus before the consistency becomes too much to stomach.

While researching eateries to try during a trip to NYC, I came across this recipe for Falafel. Once I saw the actual ingredients for falafel I knew my twin was right and I’d love them too. Although falafel is also made from chickpeas, to my surprise, it is not at all like humus! I took the recipe mentioned above and halved it as it made way too may fritters for one meal; I also adjusted the amount of spices to fit my mine and my husband’s tastes; feel free to alter the spice combination to make the falafel your own. :) Enjoy!

falafel

falafel

Ingredients:

falafel ingredients

falafel ingredients

6 oz (3/4 cup) Dried Garbanzo Beans (aka Chickpeas)
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 Red Onion, divided
2/3 Cup Fresh Parsley, divided
1/2 tsp Coriander, divided
3/4 tsp Cumin, divided
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, divided
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, divided
1/4 tsp Baking Soda, divided
2 tsp Lemon Juice, divided
1 Liter Grapeseed Oil (for frying)
 
 
Instructions:

Place dried garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Cover with 3 to 4 inches of water and let soak for 24 hours.

falafel - soaking the garbanzo beans

falafel – soaking the garbanzo beans

After 24 hours have passed, strain the garbanzo beans, shaking off any excess water.

falafel - straining the garbanzo beans

falafel – straining the garbanzo beans

Cut red onion in half and in half again; chop parsley and set ingredients aside.

falafel - cutting the onion and parsley

falafel – cutting the onion and parsley

Place 1/2 of the garbanzo beans in the bowl of a food processor along with 1/2 of each of the remaining ingredients (red onion, parsley, garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, baking soda and lemon juice). Be sure to rinse the parsley before adding it to the food processor. I also cut the onion in half once again so it fits in the food processor better. Pulse the food processor until the garbanzo beans are minced, but not pureed. Transfer falafel batter to a bowl.

falafel - processing the batter

falafel – processing the batter

Repeat the above steps with the remaining 1/2 garbanzo beans and 1/2 of each of the remaining ingredients (red onion, parsley, garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, baking soda and lemon juice). Combine first and second batches of falafel batter in the same bowl, stirring to blend well. (NOTE: If your food processor is large enough you can make the batter in one batch).

falafel - processing the remaining batter

falafel – processing the remaining batter

Heat oil to 350 degrees.

falafel - heating the oil

falafel – heating the oil

Using a cookie scoop, portion batter into ping-pong sized balls, rolling each ball with your hands to pack the batter together. Place well packed balls in basket of deep-fryer and fry about 3 minutes, or until GBD (golden brown and delicious).

falafel - shaping into balls and frying

falafel – shaping into balls and frying

Remove fried fritters from deep fryer and cool in a bowl lined with paper towels. Form remaining batter into balls and fry, adding each batch of cooked fritters to the bowl lined with paper towels.

falafel - fried

falafel – fried

Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.

falafel - with all the fixins

falafel – with all the fixins

Yields 15 fritters

Weight Watchers: 1 fritter = 2 points plus*; 3 fritters = 5 points plus*; 6 fritters = 9 points plus* (*toppings and pita not included in points plus values)

burst tomato pasta with goat cheese balls

If you’ve read my post about homemade chips and guacamole, you know how much I love garlic! My husband doesn’t have the same love (or tolerance) for garlic as I do, but he does enjoy a slightly garlicy flavor. Prior to her elimination on episode 9 of Food Network Star (season 9), Nikki Dinki made her family’s Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herbed Goat Cheese Balls. This dish looked so appetizing on TV I knew I had to try it myself. In her recipe, Nikki slices the garlic, but I minced the garlic to remove any chunks my husband would need to pick around. I also omitted the rosemary in the pasta and the basil, mint, rosemary and lemon zest in the goat cheese balls as my husband isn’t big into spices either. The aroma this dish gives off as it cooks is so intoxicating and the goat cheese balls add a little tanginess to each bite.  :) Enjoy!

burst tomato pasta with goat cheese balls

burst tomato pasta with goat cheese balls

Ingredients (Burst Tomato Pasta):

burst tomato pasta ingredients

burst tomato pasta ingredients

 

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Pints Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
Fresh Basil, to taste (Optional)
1 box Capellini Pasta

 

 

Ingredients (Goat Cheese Balls):

goat cheese ball ingredients

goat cheese ball ingredients

 

4 oz Soft Goat Cheese
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Cracked Pepper

 

 

 

Instructions (Burst Tomato Pasta):

Cook pasta according to package directions; strain and set aside.

NOTE: If you like your pasta to have more sauce, reserve 1/2 to 1 cup pasta water to add to sauce as desired.

burst tomato pasta - cooking the pasta

burst tomato pasta – cooking the pasta

Heat oil and garlic over medium heat until tender and fragrant.

burst tomato pasta - garlic and olive oil

burst tomato pasta – garlic and olive oil

Add whole tomatoes and salt. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes start to break down. Using the back of your spoon, squish the tomatoes so they burst open.

burst tomato pasta - cooking the tomatoes

burst tomato pasta – cooking the tomatoes

Add thyme and parmesan reggiano cheese to the burst tomatoes, stirring until well combined. Continue to cook over medium-low heat about 3 minutes.

burst tomato pasta sauce

burst tomato pasta sauce

Add cooked pasta to sauce, tossing to coat evenly. At this time, add reserved pasta water, if needed, until pasta mixture reaches desired sauciness.

NOTE: I did not use any reserved pasta water when making this recipe for my blog, however when the tomatoes are not as juicy I only use 1/4 to 1/2 cups reserved pasta water because I don’t like my pasta to be overly wet.

burst tomato pasta - tossed

burst tomato pasta – tossed

Instructions (Goat Cheese Balls):

Mix goat cheese, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Once throughly combined, roll a small amount in your hands to form small balls, repeating until you have made 12 cheese balls.

burst tomato pasta - goat cheese balls

burst tomato pasta – goat cheese balls

Top pasta with fresh basil (to taste) and 3 goat cheese balls per serving.

Serve immediately.

Yields 4 Servings

Weight Watchers: 1 serving= 15 points plus

NOTE: The type of pasta used may changes the points plus value; Without the Goat Cheese Balls, 1 serving = 13 points plus

zucchini “pasta”

To say I was disappointed when Nikki Dinki was eliminated during episode 9 of this season’s Food Network Star is an understatement…I really thought she was going to win :( What was most disconcerting was Nikki made one mistake and was sent home; meanwhile the other contestants were in the bottom 3 numerous times, but managed to skate through. Regardless of whether or not Nikki won the competition, I still LOVE her recipes and am going to continue following her cooking blog and YouTube videos!!

One day in April, before our Biltmore Estate passes expired, my Husband and I decided to go for a hike about the grounds. Prior to the hike, we ate lunch at Nine Mile in Asheville, NC. I ordered the Raw Zucchini Pasta Substitute with my meal; it tasted so fresh and hearty, but not overly filling like traditional pasta. After seeing Nikki Dinki’s YouTube video for Zucchini “Pasta” I was anxious to try to recreate my meal from Nine Mile. I only followed Nikki’s recipe for the Zucchini Pasta itself, as I topped my dish with bottled pasta sauce. It didn’t taste exactly the same as Nine Mile’s version but it sure was yummy. :) Enjoy!

zucchini pasta

zucchini pasta

Ingredients:

zucchini pasta ingredients

zucchini pasta ingredients

 

 

 

6 Zucchini
2 TBSP Salt

 
 
 
 
 
 

Instructions:

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from each zucchini and discard the skin.

zucchini pasta - peeling the skin

zucchini pasta – peeling the skin

Using a julienne peeler, cut the flesh of each zucchini into strips of “pasta”. Once you see the seeds, stop cutting and rotate the zucchini until all sides are peeled and the smooth flesh has been extracted. (NOTE: The Swissmar set of 3 peelers includes a julienne peeler; if you don’t have one of these, as Nikki indicates in the video, you can use a mandoline or regular vegetable peeler along with a knife to cut the wide sections into smaller “pasta-like” strips).

zucchini pasta - julienning the zucchini

zucchini pasta – julienning the zucchini

Place the “pasta” strips in a colander and sprinkle 2 TBSP salt over top of the zucchini. Using your hands, mix the salt into the zucchini.

zucchini pasta - adding the salt

zucchini pasta – adding the salt

Let the zucchini rest in the colander for about 30 minutes, allowing the salt to remove the moisture and tenderize the zucchini.

Rinse the zucchini with warm water to remove the salt. Using your hands, squeeze the zucchini to extract the excess water.

zucchini pasta - rinsing the pasta

zucchini pasta – rinsing the pasta

Place zucchini “pasta” in a bowl and top with your favorite sauce.

zucchini pasta - plain and bottled sauce

zucchini pasta – plain and bottled sauce

Serve immediately.

Yields 3 – roughly 9 oz Servings

Weight Watchers: 1 serving = 1 point plus (this is for plain “pasta”; once “pasta” is topped with sauce the points plus value will increase – I used 1/2 a cup of the above pasta sauce which resulted in a total of 3 points plus for the dish).

NOTE: The amount of zucchini used changes the servings; I used 6 average sized zucchinis which resulted in 28 oz of “pasta” for this recipe.