Monday, December 1, 2008

Vegetarian (shock!) lunch party

This past weekend a bunch of my very good friends were in town, one of whom is a vegetarian. In the past I've cooked meat with something on the side, but that always seems like a sad compromise. Vegetables are good too! So I settled on a completely vegetarian meal, which, even though two dishes were totally new to me, turned out quite well.

Chickpea and Fava Bean Falafel
with Arabic spices, parsley, and red onion, served with saffron scented cous cous and a tahini dip

(the picture was very dark - this is the best that could be done!)

The falafel was a tricky one! I'd never made it before, and my first tester practically fell apart in the oil. I re-evaluated my mixture and added lots of flour and coated each ball in flour. They were still very delicate, but they, for the most part, came out whole. I didn't have enough oil to truly deep fry them, so I couldn't make true balls, more like pancakes. Which is not inauthentic actually - they are sometimes served that way as well.

Saffron and cous cous go very nicely together! But whole wheat cous cous, which I used, while healthier, does not take on the color quite as nicely.

The dip:

(image courtesy of Lexi)

Roasted Farm-fresh Butternut Squash, Red Onions, and Grape Tomatoes
lightly seasoned with cinnamon and Spanish paptrika and topped with feta cheese

This was yummy, but dried up a bit waiting for the rest of the dishes to finally finish. I needed a touch more seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil fresh at the end would have been delicious. But I do love the way butternut squash looks on a plate, eighthed and roasted regardless! The red onion was fantastic - so sweet and slowly caramelized, I actually liked it even better than the squash.


Roya said...

Can you send me the recipe for this? Or was it literally slicing, mixing spices, adding tomatoes and raw onion with olive oil and then just baking?

Roya said...

Sorry, I meant the squash recipe.

Ali Baba said...

You got it! It was really that simple. The only trick is making sure the onions and tomatoes don't burn or dry out before the squash fully cooks. It might be helpful to cook them in two dishes and then arrange to serve for more control. The Spanish paprika is especially important - regular paprika will do, but you'll lose the smoky flavor of the real stuff.

I don't believe I actually used a recipe for it in fact - it's really simple. Let me know how it turns out!

Roya said...

I don't think I can find Spanish paprika in Kabul. My cooking adventures are usually thwarted by a lack of basic ingredients. I think I'll make them into fries. Alas, I lack sea salt too.

Ali Baba said...

oh i'm sure it will be good regardless! and fries actually might be better anyway. the sea salt definitely will make no difference in taste - it's only a slight textural difference.

these might actually be good with seer moss too! best of luck =)

Roya said...

the fries were surprisingly nice. so much so that i felt guilty like i was eating pommes frites.

looking forward to more blog posts. i love reading about food, especially since nice non-afghan food is hard to come by around here, and since we lack the kind of grocery stores you become accustomed to in the states.