Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chickpea Patties

We love falafel. I think it was one of the first *foreign* dishes we tried after becoming vegan. Previously, our ethnic adventures had pretty much been limited to Chinese, Mexican and Italian. Mediterranean food had never been in our repertoire. I'm not even sure when first we tried falafel, but we've been hooked ever since.

When I came upon this recipe I thought it was a nice take on falafel, making me think more of the vegetarian style cutlets I had experimented with in my early mom years, when I was making better efforts to feed my family nutritiously. Funny, now that I think about it, those early years provided a pretty good base, but I am so much happier that we have gone complete circle and then some.

Chickpea Patties

Olive oil
One onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 t. salt
black pepper to taste
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
few cloves of garlic
2 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 T. Braggs aminos
1 t. dried thyme
2 c. cooked brown rice
3/4 c. quick oats

Saute onion, celery, salt and pepper in olive oil until soft. In a food processor, puree garbanzo beans, garlic cloves, Worcestershire sauce, Braggs, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt. Add sauteed vegetables and 1 c. of the brown rice. Whiz again in the food processor to blend well. Add last cup of rice for one more whiz around. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the oats. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Form into patties and fry in more oil on medium high heat. Fry until golden on each side.

I served it with tahini on the side.  They came out nicely crispy.

Garbanzo beans, which may also be called chickpeas, are a member of the legume family. Instead of having the flat oval shape of most beans, garbanzo bean are a pale cream (though some other colors are available) and mostly round in shape. These legumes were domesticated very early, possibly even 5000-10,000 years ago, and evidence of their use is found in archaeological digs in places like Turkey, France and Israel. Domesticated chickpeas have been found in the aceramic levels of Jericho (PPNB) along with Cayönü in Turkey and in Neolithic pottery at Hacilar, Turkey. They are found in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BCE) at Thessaly, Kastanas, Lerna and Dimini. In southern France Mesolithic layers in a cave at L'Abeurador, Aude have yielded wild chickpeas carbon dated to 6790±90 BCE. By the Bronze Age, chickpeas were known in Italy and Greece. In classical Greece, they were called erébinthos and eaten as a staple, a dessert, or consumed raw when young. The Romans knew several varieties such as venus, ram, and punic chickpeas. They were both cooked down into a broth and roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius - I mentioned him in an earlier post here - gives several recipes for chickpeas. Carbonized chickpeas have been found at the Roman legion fort at Neuss (Novaesium), Germany in layers from the first century CE, along with rice.

Chickpeas are mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis (about 800 CE) as cicer italicum, as grown in each imperial demesne. Albertus Magnus mentions red, white and black varieties. Nicholas Culpeper noted "chick-pease or cicers" are less "windy" than peas and more nourishing. Ancient people also associated chickpeas with Venus because they were said to offer medical uses such as increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine and helping to treat kidney stones. In 1793, ground-roast chickpeas were noted by a German writer as a coffee substitute in Europe and in the First World War, they were grown for this in some areas of Germany. Chickpeas are still sometimes brewed instead of coffee.
They are used in making hummus and falafel and most often seen in Mediterranean dishes. I also use them to make a vegan tuna salad that we really like. Good on crackers or even as a sandwich.

The popularity of garbanzo beans may be due to their inherent nutritional value. A cooked cup (164 grams) is an excellent source of dietary fiber, and provides substantial levels of important nutrients like iron and folate. They also are a high protein food, with just under 15 grams of protein per serving. These nutrients are paired with relatively low calories, only 269 per cup.

Garbanzo beans have a light, buttery flavor. They’re not strong in taste, and will readily absorb most other flavors, spices or seasonings. We even eat them straight out of the can, they are just that nice.

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