Choosing a recipe can sometimes feel like putting together a baseball team. It is the home chef as general manager.
In each field, the objective is the same — to please the folks at home by offering them a winning dish while remaining within the allotted budget. The objective is straightforward. As is the theory behind it: acquire the best ingredients, assemble, and serve warm.
But this process is never as straight forward as it seems. Expensive ingredients, like high-priced free agents, may be past their expiration date. They may collapse under high heat or stiffen up as they approach the plate. Players bought on the cheap, may be just that – cheap, bland and tasteless versions of a better option.
Poring over ingredients and recipes, just like poring over score sheets and scouting reports, is a hybrid of skill and intuition. You need to sense that placing oranges in a clafoutis will have the same disastrous effect as placing Milton Bradley in your lineup. Or that a little lemon zest — one of those versatile, yet overlooked items — can bring a group together like a little-known utility player.
In this case, combining these chickpeas, with some sweet potato and the right combination of herbs and spices, creates a formidable team. It’s inexpensive – so no luxury tax – and most importantly, bound to please the fans at home with its winning taste.
sweet potato Falafel
DOWN TIME: Overnight soaking required; 60 minutes for cooling
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes
YIELD: About 30 sweet potato falafel balls
WHAT TO GRAB:
2 cups dried garbanzo beans
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 to 8 tablespoons flour
Meat of 2 sweet potatoes
Tzatziki sauce (recipe here)
Roma tomatoes, sliced
A cucumber, thinly sliced
HOW YOU DO IT:
THE NIGHT BEFORE
1. Pour the garbanzo beans in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by at least three inches. Let the beans soak at least overnight, and if possible, for a full 24 hours.
2. Bake the sweet potatoes at 420°F for 1 hour 20 minutes. Once the sweet potatoes are cool, remove the meat and mash it until a purée. This can also be done overnight.
READY TO BLEND
3. Drain the beans. Place the garbanzo beans, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and sweet potato in a food processor, fitted with a steel blade. Process until well blended, but not puréed. Add the baking powder and flour, and pulse briefly, stopping once combined.
4. Turn the mixture into a bowl. Form the chickpea mixture into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on a baking sheet. Once you have formed all the balls, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
6. Toast several slices of pita bread. Stuff the pita with tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, thin slices of cucumbers, and as many warm falafel balls as you can! Serve warm!