falafel, israeli couscous salad & cucumber dill sauce

While visiting home, I get to cook dinner for my dad.  I love it.  It is my favorite way to show people that I care.  Plus, he is always such a willing participant which makes it that much more fun.  This past week I prepared a take on falafel that is baked, rather than fried, as well as a tasty whole grain salad with a slew of veggies.  To top it all off, I whipped up the tasty cucumber dill sauce that I learned to make while working at an Egyptian cafe.  Here are the recipes:

Falafel (makes 8 2″ diameter falafels)

1 15.5oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg
1/2 – 1 cup bread crumbs
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 – 2 tsp garlic powder (or fresh, if you have it…I did not)
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Put the garbanzo beans in bowl and mash.
  3. Add the bread crumbs, seasonings and egg.  Mix thoroughly.
  4. Form the mixture into 8 even size patties and place them on the baking sheet.  Spray them with cooking spray and place them in the oven.
  5. At 7 minutes, flip the falafel (the bottoms should be slightly browned) and spray the tops with cooking spray again.
  6. Bake for an additional 7 minutes.
  7. Remove the falafel from the oven and serve immediately over a bed of spinach or in a wrap/tortilla/pita/etc.  Top with the cucumber dill sauce and freshly chopped tomatoes (if desired).

Cook’s note: I like to taste test the falafel before baking to make sure the seasoning is right.  Try frying up a small bit of the “dough” in a frying pan to try it before baking the whole amount.

Israeli couscous salad

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1 cup Israeli couscous (I used whole wheat)
1 1/4 cup warm water (or broth if desired)
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1 medium Roma tomato, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP parsley
1 – 2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dill
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese, optional

  1. Add the olive oil to a small pot.  Add the celery and onion.  Saute until they begin to soften, 2 -3 minutes.  Add the peppers and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the couscous, carrots and seasonings.  Stir well.
  2. Add the water and stir again.  Place the top on the pot and bring to a simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Briefly remove the lid and add the tomatoes and spinach.  Stir well and cover the pot again.  Let sit for 2 – 3 minutes.  (This would be a great time to plate your falafel.)
  4. Remove the lid and add the lemon juice (start with 1 tsp and work your way up).  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Top with a light sprinkling of feta cheese if desired.  Serve immediately with the falafel (although it also tastes good cold for lunch).

Cucumber dill sauce

8 oz. plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream
1 cup shredded cucumber that has been thoroughly drained/squeezed
1 – 2 cloves minced garlic or 1 -2 tsp garlic powder
juice from 1/4 small lemon (1-2 tsp)
2 tsp dried dill or 2 TBSP fresh dill
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix all of the ingredients and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before use.

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Piep Piep Piep
Guten Appetit!

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