Hello and welcome to all about food.
Help! I am cracking up! My teenage daughter has recently refused to eat meat, having been a very unfussy eater up until now. Do you have any tasty dinner suggestions that will keep all my family happy?
This seems to be a query that pops up every now and then through this column. Thankfully there are numerous alternatives to meat, ingredients that still give substance to the family dinner (aubergines, feta cheese etc - see recipes on www.gingergirl.ie). Another popular, not to mention nutritious and versatile ingredient is the chickpea. Chickpeas are a member of the legume family and have a delicious nutlike taste and buttery texture. They provide a good source of protein and are high in fibre. Chickpeas are a popular ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus, curries and, one of my favourite, falafels.
Falafels are a type of croquette served in pitta bread or flat bread with salad and a sauce or salsa. Falafels are a very popular street food of the Middle East; so popular in fact, that McDonalds served a ‘McFalafel’ in some countries!
Falafel pitta breads
400g can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, roughly chopped
a garlic clove, finely chopped
a handful of fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of harissa paste
2 tablespoons of plain flour
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
toasted pitta breads
hot summer salsa – see below
lettuce, finely shredded, to serve
Pat the chickpeas dry with kitchen paper. Tip into a food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley, spices, flour and a little salt. Blend lightly, try not to over blend, then shape into small golf ball sized patties with your hands – you should get about twelve patties.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the patties and quickly fry for three minutes on each side until lightly golden. Serve with warmed pittas, tomato salsa, some sliced cucumber and salad leaves.
Simply seed and dice four ripe vine tomatoes and mix in a bowl with one finely sliced small seeded red chilli, one small red onion, finely diced, two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a little sea salt – delicious!
Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.
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