“Hey, I kid because I love!” – Krusty the Clown, from The Simpsons
Every once in a while as I’m driving through the comatose streets of my adopted town – usually lamenting the lack of decent places to eat – I get a wild hair to open a vegan cafe and bakery. Mostly just to tweak the locals who consider tofu to be ethnic food and think that I’m undergoing chemo because my upper arms don’t jiggle. In a community of approximately 5,700, there are about 10 eateries, which sounds like a lot until you factor in that 50% of these have closed their doors. I don’t eat fast food, so that nixes 2 additional spots; and I can forget about finding anything at the remaining establishments that doesn’t contain some form of dead animal. There’s no-way-no-how a vegan restaurant has a prayer of making it. Period. So my wild hair shrivels and it’s back to my own kitchen where I know exactly what’s going into the loaf pan and the pot.
But if I did open a vegan restaurant, I wouldn’t tell anyone that it was vegan and I’d call it Meat World Cafe with the motto, “Even Our Cheese Has Meat!” so that no suspicions would be raised about there being such toxins as broccoli, beans, tomatoes, or tempeh in their Blue Plate Specials. To further obfuscate matters, I’d give breakfast dishes names like The Early Bird Special, You Don’t Know Jack Hash, or Honky Tonk French Toast; a typical lunch dish would be Grilled Mac ‘n’ Cheez Sandwich and dinners might include French Fry Tacos and Green Bean Casserole Pizza.
Coincidentally (except there are no coincidences, are there?), Natalie Slater has already given these names to recipes in her book, Bake & Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans. Exactly the kind of meals I would serve at my plant-based cafe.
Admittedly, something called a Falafel Waffle probably would get noticed. So I won’t be sharing this at my cafe. But I will share the recipe with you, courtesy of Ms. Slater.
If it’s edible, there’s a 99 percent chance I’ve smooshed it into my waffle maker just to see what would happen. In the case of falafel, the result is a crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside savory waffle— no deep-frying required! This hummus recipe is great with pita and veggies as well, just reduce the amount of tahini to a few tablespoons (about 30 ml). – Natalie Slater
Makes about 8 waffles
2 (15-ounce [425 g]) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup (15 g) chopped fresh parsley
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (15-ounce [425 g]) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup (60 g) tahini
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
1 medium-size cucumber, diced
1 large tomato, diced
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the falafel batter, use a food processor to blend the chickpeas, parsley, onion and garlic until there are no large chunks (small chunks are fine; they give the falafel texture)—you might need to do this in two or three batches. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, flour and baking soda. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
While that sets up, make the hummus “syrup.” Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until you have a creamy texture. It should be looser than a typical hummus, so you can pipe it on top of the cooked waffle.
Following the manufacturer’s directions, preheat your waffle maker and spray it with cooking spray. If you can choose a temperature, go with medium. Spoon about 1⁄3 cup (70 g) of the falafel batter into each cavity and close the cover. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the outside is crispy and lightly browned.
Make the topping: Toss the cucumber and tomato in the lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top the falafel waffle with hummus and a generous pile of tomato and cucumber. Serve warm.
From Bake & Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans, by Natalie Slater. Used by permission from Page Street Publishing Co.
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