Not So Boring Salad Monday
August 6, 2008
After getting back to Chicago following our weekend in Minnesota, Salad Monday was definitely in order. We had feasted morning, night and noon while we were away and some austerity was necessary. But I really wanted falafel. So, I took falafel and dressed it up in a salad costume and called it Salad Monday. A deconstructed falafel sandwich, if you will. Everybody wins.
We had been looking forward to a good, old fashioned night at home. July seems like it never even happened and as soon as my post-Bar Exam life began, we rushed off to Minnesota. So a simple salad, a Cubs game and a scoop of sorbet sounded mighty fine. Boring, sometimes, is just what the doctor ordered.
Alas, boring was not what Mother Nature had in mind for us on Monday night. After Kevin got home from work, we walked to the market, enjoying a sunny, sultry evening. After that, I started preparing dinner with visions of dinner on the deck (preceded by an extended photo shoot in the lovely natural light, of course). And then … the clouds rolled in. [Cue the ominous music.]
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
And that’s why these photos are a little off—the light was an eerie shade of green by the time dinner was ready. We were treated to a dazzling lightning show off in the distance (which—duh—came our way eventually). Before we knew it, the Cubs game was being interrupted with Lost-esque recorded messages that blacked out the television screen and advised us about seeking shelter and funnel clouds. Our apartment is pretty much surrounded by windows, so we rushed through dinner and hightailed it to the back stairwell, taking solace in its concrete. From there, we could hear sirens wailing, wind whipping and, finally, a window blowing open, letting in a deluge of water. The worst of it only lasted about five minutes, so we launched damage control fairly quickly. We’re fine and, for the most part, our place is fine too.
So I guess what I’m saying is this: if you’re looking for a boring, plain old weeknight salad, this one might not be for you. It apparently brings a good dose of we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore-type excitement right along with it.
For the Tsatsiki Dressing:
1 container Greek yogurt (such as Fage)
1/4 cup minced cucumber
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
juice of 1 lemon
For the Falafel (adapted from this recipe):
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
For the Salad:
3 cups baby greens, such as baby arugula
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped seedless cucumbers
To serve alongside:
grilled pita chips
To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients in the bottom of a large salad bowl, stirring with a fork until well combined.
Next, prepare the falafel. In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat just until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the onion mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Add 1 cup of the beans and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl. Mix in the remaining whole garbanzo beans and 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 6 1/4-cup patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
Put the flour, beaten egg white and remaining bread crumbs into 3 shallow bowls. Dust each bean cake with the flour, tapping off the excess. Dip the cakes in the egg and then in the bread crumbs, pressing so that the bread crumbs adhere.
In a very large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil until shimmering. Add the cakes and cook over moderate heat, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, toss the baby greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in the tsatsiki dressing. Divide the dressed vegetables between two plates. Top each plate with 3 falafel patties.