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.

Falafel Salad

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
pinch salt

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.

15 Responses to “Not So Boring Salad Monday”

  1. Whitney Says:

    The tornado sirens were crazy. I am originally from Texas so tornados aren’t a big deal to me but now that I live in a high rise I didn’t know where to go. Do you go to the Lobby that is on the 1st floor but has a ton of windows or stay in the apt in the bathroom on the 15th floor? I ended up packing up the cat and going to the Lobby.

    So glad that you didn’t have any apt damage. We got a bunch of water that blew in through the balcony sliding down but thankfully we threw down some towels.

    I am going to have to try homemade falafel. Looks yummy!

  2. eggsonsunday Says:

    Wow, Kristin, so glad you’re okay and there was no major damage. Sounds like a wild Salad Monday. The salad looks delicious, too — I tried your salad with the crispy black bean cakes awhile ago, and we loved it. This will definitely go on the dinner roster. 🙂 –Amy

  3. Amy Says:

    I just wanted to say that I came across your blog a few weeks ago – pre-bar exam, and I love it! I want to make everything I’ve seen on here! Your stories are well told, photos terrific, and I’m just happy you are sharing it with us. Thanks!

    I wanted to tell you too that when my sister-in-law took the bar she said it was like giving birth for 2 days and then nothing to show for it. I’m glad you survived it!

  4. Amaris Says:

    First, congrats on completing the Bar in one piece. Having been there, done that about seven years ago in California, I can relate. (My mantra was “This too shall pass . . .” and thankfully it did – and so did I!) Secondly, I stumbled upon your site today by accident – and am SO happy I found it. (Where have you been all my life?) I can’t wait to try some of your recipes. Keep them coming!

  5. Ali Says:

    You’ve turned me into a falafel lover and there’s no turning back… Simply delicious!

  6. mari Says:

    Your falafel salad looks amazing! I made falafel for the first time recently, using Baking Bites’ oven baked falafel recipe, which was also wonderful. I like the look of yours though, I’m going to have to try it very soon!

  7. mari Says:

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention…
    I’ve tagged you for the 10 Favorite Food Pictures meme, so please feel free to play along, if you so desire!

  8. Whitney: I know! So scary. Sorry to hear you had water too. Ugh.

    Amy (eggsonsunday): This is a twist on that black bean salad (which I loooove). I see some hemming and hawing in my future over the two choices.

    Amy: Why, thank you! That’s such a nice note. I have heard the exam compared to a triathalon (by a triathalon-er), but I think I like the birth analogy better (not that I’m an authority on either topic!).

    Aramis: I said more than once while I was studying that I was happy to be taking the IL bar rather than the CA bar. I hope you do try some recipes. If so, let me know how they go!

    Mari: I’ve had trouble (in short, crumbly results) with oven-baked falafel, so I’ll have to try that one. And thanks for the tag! That’s a fun one (and an honor).

  9. canarygirl Says:

    Ooooh, falafel is good all by itself, but in a salad? Gawd, yum! Hey, what were ya doin’ in Minnesoooooda hey? (I’m orig from there. :))

  10. steven Says:

    why did you call these black bean cakes in the recipe?

  11. canarygirl: I’m originally from MN too, dontcha know. So we were back visiting my parents and grandparents, who all still live there.

    steven: Sorry about that. As I say above, I adapted the falafel recipe from another one (for black bean cakes) and I missed that reference to the black bean cakes. I’ve changed it now. Hope that clears up any confusion.

  12. Boring or not boring — and as you say these are not — this salad looks amazing. I love the fact that the falafels are from canned chickpeas. Makes it so much more convenient. Or boring, I guess. 😉

  13. js: Thank you! And, yes, the canned chickpeas makes this a really quick recipe.

  14. Kylee Says:

    Wow – that looks seriously awesome. I’m making it this week.

  15. Kylee: Thanks! Let us know how it goes!

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