I have about a hundred or so of these little creatures growing on my kitchen counter.
They look a little like some kind of alien being.
They are actually sprouted chickpeas.
I’d love to tell you that this was intentional on my part – that I made an conscious effort to sprout dried beans because I knew the health benefits and wanted to share those with my family.
The truth is that this happened completely by accident. I started soaking a pound of chickpeas on Friday with the intention of making falafel and hummus. Friday night, all I wanted to do was go to bed, so I just left them there, undrained, uncooked, just submerged in water. Saturday was kind of crazy with swim lessons and grocery shopping and house cleaning, and then my husband and I met some friends for an evening out, and I completely forgot about the chickpeas. Sunday morning I looked at them and the water was looking a little funky and foamy, so I drained them and rinsed them and left them in a colander to dry. Today I looked at them, and they had magically sprouted. At first I was concerned, but after a bit of research (isn’t the internet a handy tool?), I learned that they are quite healthful and actually easier to digest in their sprouted state.
I decided to go ahead with my falafel-making plans, but I also researched recipes for raw sprouted chickpea hummus. I tried one of them, and while it was edible I probably won’t make it again – it just didn’t have the texture or flavor that I expect hummus to have. It was, frankly, raw tasting – like the flavors just hadn’t really come together. And it wasn’t smooth, which is a quality I value in hummus. So, while I’m sure there are health benefits to the raw sprouted legumes, I’ll probably cook them the next time I make hummus.
As for the falafel, I decided to do a traditional preparation since it was for tonight’s dinner. I’ve read a number of recipes this evening that call for doing raw falafel in the dehydrator, so I plan to try that in the future. It can take as long as 24 hours, though, so it wasn’t an option for me this evening.
I’ve made falafel on this blog before, so I won’t go through all the steps. What I will tell you is that I pulled down a Mark Bittman book today to reference the falafel recipe, and it turned out SO MUCH BETTER than the last time I made it. See, the last few times I made falafel, I used Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, but this time, I accidentally pulled down The Best Recipes in the World. The recipes are almost identical.
The recipe in Best follows the one in How to word for word except for two small differences. It calls for more than twice as much salt (!) and it calls for an egg. Bittman addresses the egg in his headnotes, indicating that it’s not traditional but that it does help to bind the falafel.
I didn’t use all the salt, although I think I’ll use even less next time (2 1/2 teaspoons is an awful lot of salt), but I did use the egg. And it was a revelation. The mixture was looser than what I’m accustomed to, but it held together nicely, and it yielded a wonderfully light and airy little bean croquette. I’m not sure if the texture was a result of the egg alone, or if the combination of the egg and sprouted beans had something to do with it. Suffice it to say, these were the best falafel I’ve ever made.
If I do the dehydrator method, I’ll use the original recipe (the one I’ve posted before) since it doesn’t have any egg in it. I’ll let you know how it goes when I try it.
To accompany my falafel and raw hummus, I made some greek potatoes. I had some Peruvian purple potatoes in my produce box (say that seven times fast) last week, and they have this cool property where their color is drastically enhanced by the addition of acid. Since greek potatoes incorporate lemon juice, I knew that this was a perfect application for these little violet jewels.
I first diced them and boiled them in some salted, acidulated water (just added some lemon juice) until they were just fork tender. I then drained them and sauteed them in some olive oil until they began to brown. At this point, I tasted them for seasoning, added a bit of salt and pepper, some finely minced marjoram and parsley and then finished them by squeezing the juice of one lemon over top.
Where the lemon juice hits the potatoes, it turns them bright pink. This is a fun one for kids, since many of them have never encountered a purple potato. Letting them watch the color change when you add the lemon juice is especially fun.
For a printable version of the falafel recipe, click here.
For a printable version of the Greek potatoes recipe, click here.