What to do with too many ... 3 recipes for chickpeas

Chickpeas soaked over-night

Soaking beans takes so freaking long. You're lucky to manage the successful execution of a plot to buy, soak and prepare beans in a 48-hour period. So, it's never a question of not soaking enough beans (could you imagine how frustrating that would be ??), but frequently of having soaked too many. Such was the case the morning after a kilo of dry chickpeas had been sitting under water on my kitchen counter.

Though preparation might be time consuming, it shouldn't be too much of an effort to figure out what to do with freshly cooked beans. Especially chickpeas -- hot, just-cooked chickpeas are so light and nutty, they don't need more than some olive oil, crunchy sea-salt and a fork and it's magic in a bowl.

(In case you missed it, that was recipe idea number one.)

Crunchy Falafel
The recipe this is based on the one from The Hummus Blog, though I doubled it, added some extra seasoning and omitted the bread crumbs. I think the falafel mix came out softer than it might with the bread, but for me this wasn't a problem because I found small patties easier to cook (with less oil) than balls (hehe "balls" ...). I listed a few examples of garnishes from all over but anyone with other ideas is more than welcome to comment.

As far as oil for frying goes, try to avoid cannola oil (this is why), instead try for sunflower oil, peanut oil or coconut oil (or a mix !). If you want to skip the pan fried step and just bake them, I'm sure that a brushing of olive oil would be fine.

4 cups of chickpeas, soaked for at least 12 hours, drained and rinced (no typos here, you don't cook the chickpeas beforehand) 
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro (coriander)
1 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbl ground cumin
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
2-3 pinches red pepper flakes
2 tsp salt
Fresh black pepper
1 cup warm water
2 Tbl sesame seeds
1 1/2 Tbl baking soda (about 4 tsp)
Oil for frying (see notes above)

Put the chickpeas, onion, garlic, and spices in a bowl (leave out the sesame seeds, baking soda and fresh herbs). In four parts, blend the ingredients in a blender or food processor until mealy, adding hot water as needed to ease the process on your kitchen appliance. Having a range of textures with the chickpeas makes for a crunchier, lighter falafel -- a texture that's too fine or too homogenous will make for dense (albeit still tastely) falafel. Add a quarter of the fresh herbs to each batch while blending (I did it this way because I couldn't chop the herbs as fine as I would have liked to add it directly to mix after, and adding the herbs too soon to the blender would have killed them, I feared).

Mix the four batches of crushed chickpeas and spices in a bowl with the sesame seed and cover with cling wrap. Let the mix sit for 4-6 hours in a cool spot (like maybe the fridge).

When your ready to cook it up, pre-heat the oven 375°F/190°C. Heat a large cast-iron skillet with a thin layer of oil over high heat (but not so high that your oil smokes). Add the baking soad to the falafel mix. When the oil is hot (I'm abstaining from advising ways of checking this), form falafel into small 2" or 3" patties and drop (delicately) into the pan. Be careful as the mix might still rather loose and you don't want to splash yourself with hot oil (like you needed me to tell you that). Cook the falafel on both sides until it's golden brown and holds together well enough (it might still be squishy and uncooked in the middle), then move to a plate lined with paper towel. When all of the falafel has been cooked on the outside, move the mini patties to the baking sheet and put in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until deep golden brown on the outside and cooked throughout.

You can skip the oven step by using more oil in the pan (enough to come about halfway up the little patties) and cooking on both sides until dark brown. OR you could skip the pan step by adding about 1/4 cup olive oil to the falafel mix, in place of part of the water. Lay patties out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Cook 8-10 minutes both sides at 375° (I imagine that you can also stick them under the broiler for half a minute at the end to get a the super crisp, dark exterior you get with fried falafel).

Serve hot, hot, hot on a whole wheat pita or Libanese bread or crusty country bread with, tahini sauce (below), harissa, pickles, fresh mint/coriander/parsley, sliced onions, tomatoes, hummus, baba ghanoush, fried eggplant, tzatziki, chopped olives, and/or [so on and so forth ad fin.].

Makes about 34 two inch falafel patties.

Hummus (a balancing act)

I wasn't going to post a recipe for making hummus because I don't really have one (nor have I ever really managed to follow one). I wasn't going to post this because it requires you to keep adding ingredients until you hit the perfect flavor balance -- and usually by that point I have about a liter and half of hummus. But then I realized that there are few people that would probably consider that a bad thing ... 

1 jar tahini (more than half-way full is fine, unless it's a tiny jar)
3-4 cups freshly cooked chickpeas (or, whatthehell, more than that) -- recipe below
2 lemons (though you'll probably only need one)
Half a head of garlic
Olive oil
Sea salt
Cayanne pepper
Not more than a couple dashes of cumin (optional, but then again what isn't ?)
Hot water (you probably won't use more than 1 1/2 cups)

Start by making the tahini sauce (note note note -- make extra here and put it to the side for your falafel sandwich !). Put a shy 1/4 cup tahini (sesame purée) in a blender with 1 crushed clove of garlic, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a pinch of sea salt. While it's a'mixin', pour a thin, steady stream of water into the blender for a couple seconds (like 4 or 5). Turn the blender off and check the sauce -- the consistancy should be fluid like heavy cream and the taste should be tangy and slightly sweet (not astringent). If the ingredients look separated turn the mixer back on for 30 seconds or so. Adjust to taste.

When the tahini sauce is to you're liking, add 2/3 of your quantity of chickpeas (remembering that you may or may not use all of them), 2 crushed cloves of garlic, another pinch of salt, 1/4 lemon juice, a dash of cumin and cayanne and turn the blender back on. Blender in motion, add enough hot water to make the mix more blender friendly. Taste and adjust (does it need more chickpeas, more tahini (sesame purée), salt or lemon ?). Keep in mind that the cumin and cayanne are only there to complement the flavors and shouldn't be overdone. Likewise, garlic intensity grows with time, and a happily pungent chickpea spead today could lead to death by halitosis when you dig in again tomorrow.

Makes a shit-ton of hummus.

To cook chickpeas : Rince one pound of chickpeas soaked overnight and put them in a pot covered with about 3" of water. Bring to a boil and add 4 tsp baking soda. Boil for about an hour skimming the foam off the top of the pot (foam = impurities and dirt still on the beans [or what-have-you]). When the chickpeas are almost done (still very slightly al dente) turn the pot off and add 1 Tbl coarse salt. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before rincing and using in whatever capacity your heart desires (though, might I suggest the recipes in this post).  
Hummus garnished with olive oil, paprika and chopped parsley

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