Beans, Main Dishes, Recipes

Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights. 

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Spring is here! My birthday was yesterday, and #BabyVolde’s is next week. He’ll be ONE on Friday. I can hardly believe it. Last weekend we celebrated his birthday and his baptism. Almost our entire family came down for the occasion. It was a whirlwind weekend (and unfortunately it rained the whole time) but it was so fun.

Our little family

One of the best parts of spring (aside from the great running weather) is all the fresh produce at the grocery store! It’s almost farmer’s market season too. I can’t wait. I foresee quite a few lighter meals in our future, like these deconstructed falafel bowls. Regular falafel, while delicious, are a little too intense for weeknight dinners at my house. All that shaping and frying/baking. Noooo thanks! BUT if you just roast the chickpeas in the oven and layer them up with some grains, a tasty Mediterranean salsa bursting with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and herbs, and drizzle a tangy tzatziki yogurt sauce over top, suddenly falafels on a random Wednesday night is doable. Even if you have a baby crawling all over the kitchen, getting into evvvvvvverything.

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Though they take about 45 minutes to put together, most of that time is hands-off, waiting for the chickpeas to get all crispy in the oven. To make this meal faster, you can prepare the grain base (I used bulgur but anything goes–couscous, quinoa, rice, etc.) and tzatziki yogurt sauce ahead of time. Then, when the chickpeas are cooking you can throw the Mediterranean salsa together in a hurry… and presto! Dinner is served. 🙂 We loved all the textures/flavors in this dish, as well as the temperature contrast between the hot, smoky chickpeas and the cool, creamy tzatziki sauce. This is a great one dish meal that has definitely earned a spot on my spring/summer dinner rotation. Next time, I’ll be sure to pick up some pita bread and hummus to enjoy on the side. Happy Friday!

one year ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo Dream
two years ago: Spicy Chickpea Bacon Burgers
three years ago: Easy Homemade New York Bagels
four years ago: Kale Fried Rice
five years ago: Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
six years ago: Mexican Pizza

Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

  • Servings: 3
  • Print

adapted from Delish Knowledge; Tzatziki from my blog

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted very dry with towel
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup uncooked bulgur, couscous or other grain/grain susbtitute of choice

for the Tzatziki

  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated, pressed dry with a clean dish towel
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill (or 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped])
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for the Mediterranean salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making the chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chickpeas–they should be very dry–with olive oil, then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and season with cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

While chickpeas are cooking, prepare grain according to package directions. I made bulgur but couscous, quinoa, farro, or even rice would be great choices! Basically, anything goes here.

Next, make tzatziki. In a small bowl, stir together greek yogurt with grated cucumber, then fold in dill. Season with pepper and salt to taste. If desired, add mayonnaise. It adds a little extra tang that I love, but it can be omitted. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend. Tzatziki can be made the day before if desired.

Finally, make the Mediterranean salsa. Stir together tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion in a medium bowl. Gently fold in parsley and mint, then season with a bit of pepper. Let rest while chickpeas finish cooking.

 

When ready to serve, place bulgur in individual bowls. Top with chickpeas, Medterranean salsa, and a drizzle of tzatziki. Enjoy!

Advertisements
Other, Recipes, Sides

SRC: Tunisian Chickpea Salad

This easy Tunisian-inspired chickpea salad is wonderfully flavorful. In fall and winter, your spices and dried herbs will amaze you… and in the summer, this salad comes alive with fresh herbs. Great year-round dish!

Tunisian Chickpea Salad... an easy, delicious side dish! #secretrecipeclub #src via thepajamachef.com

For years I thought I didn’t like chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans. My dad [who admittedly isn’t the biggest fan of vegetables] would top his salad bar salads at Pizza Hut with lots of those cream-colored, round beans while I looked on with a disgusted look on my face. They looked odd, beans weren’t something I ever ate, they had a weird name, and why would you put beans on a salad anyways?!? Sometime along the way I discovered hummus, and with it… learned that chickpeas were the star of that great show so I gave the chickpeas a good ‘ole second [or fiftieth] chance. And now I can’t get enough of them.

Chickpea burgers, chickpea salad, roasted chickpeas… I love it all. So when I saw this Tunisian Chickpea Salad on simply.food, a vegetarian food blog run by the lovely Nayna, I pretty much immediately knew I was making it for the Secret Recipe Club this month. Nanya has so many great recipes on her blog though, so it was a tough decision between this chickpea salad and Pumpkin Rice, Sweet Rice, or Spicy Stuffed Tunisian Bread. Nayna’s mission with her blog is to create simple, home-cooked recipes that are sensational and mouth-watering. She even has a couple of cookbooks available, so she must be doing something right!

Tunisian Chickpea Salad... an easy, delicious side dish! #secretrecipeclub #src via thepajamachef.com

Ben and I absolutely loved this light and refreshing chickpea salad. I made it on a Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed bowls of it during football watching… a little appetizer-precursor to our homemade corndog mini muffins. 🙂 Not exactly two foods that go side-by-side, but two delicious dishes nonetheless. This salad was incredibly flavorful–full of aromatic herbs like coriander and mint along with some staples like garlic powder [I think fresh would be too potent], crushed red pepper, green peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes. I used dried herbs because it’s November, but in the summer this would be a great way to use all the herbs I grow in the backyard! I do have to say though, part of the reason I was SO into making this salad was because this year I actually dried all my leftover herbs from my garden instead of letting them die with the first hard frost. So now I have a huge mason jar filled with dried mint. I forsee a lot of tea… and now this salad[!!!] in my future! I am so excited.

Tunisian Chickpea Salad... an easy, delicious side dish! #secretrecipeclub #src via thepajamachef.com

This awesome chickpea salad gets more enticing the longer it sits, but it doesn’t make a huge batch so I don’t think it’ll last very long anywhere! Next time I make it, you better believe I’ll make a double batch. Nayna recommends serving it with pita bread which I will DEFINITELY try too! Enjoy! Thanks, Nayna for a great recipe!

one year ago: Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin
two years ago: Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls
three years ago: Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir Fry
four years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bars
five years ago: Lime-Soy Chicken

Tunisian Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

from simply.food

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons green pepper, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped – optional
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together chickpeas, tomatoes, green pepper, and shallot. Pour vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice on top, then stir again. Sprinkle with coriander, crushed red pepper, mint, and garlic and gently stir. Taste and add salt or pepper if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld, then serve chilled.


Please check out all the other great recipes made for the SRC this month at the link below! Happy Monday! 🙂

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

This pasta is creamy and cheesy, and full of lots of summer veggies. What’s not to love?!?

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

Ahhh, pasta. If you’re like me, you probably have it at least once a week in some form or another. No matter how you fix it, pasta is always a vehicle for something delicious. Though baked pastas are my FAVE, in the summer, sometimes that’s too much. So this time, I threw in everything from my local farmer’s market and called it a day. I think the combo of mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and corn was perfect. I thought about just tossing the veggies with an olive oil or butter-based sauce, but instead decided to try for a lighter creamy sauce. After cooking the veggies, I tossed in some flour and added some milk. After letting it cook down, I added cheese and herbs. I truly wasn’t sure how it would go, and was so happy with the results! In a word, or three… Flavorful, refreshing, and satisfying. Mmm!

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

I absolutely inhaled this colorful and light pasta! It’s cheesy and creamy and super wonderful. Unlike some saucy pasta dishes, this one reheated well which was a pleasant surprise. You better believe I hoarded the leftovers and will be making this again soon. 🙂 Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes
two years ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
four years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn, cut off the cob
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs – I used dill, basil, lemon thyme, and a tiny bit of mint
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and corn. Season with pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir to coat. Pour in milk and stir. Constantly stir, cooking until thick–about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is cooked, fold pasta into sauce. Sprinkle with herbs and mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts, then season with pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or toss in an oven safe baking dish and cook until cheese on top crisps up. I think some bread crumbs mixed with butter and lemon zest on top could be magnificent too!

Fruit, Recipes, Sides

Cranberry Mint Relish + What To Do With All That Mint

A refreshing take on a traditional cranberry relish!

Cranberry Mint Relish + Ideas for Preserving Fresh Mint | thepajamachef.com

My favorite part of any holiday meal is the cranberry sauce. I’m picky about it though–it can’t be canned, and it can’t have nuts. I used to be a purist and only liked the traditional cranberry orange relish. But these gingered cranberry-apricot sauce and cranberry-pineapple sauce have opened up the doors for some experimentation. So this weekend, when I had a bag of cranberries in one hand and a ginormously huge mint plant in the other that had to be used up before the weather goes whacko this week, I thought, what the heck, and threw some mint in the mix. And you know what? It was pretty awesome. Adding mint to traditional cranberry relish seems pretty novel [but I’m sure others have done it] and it lends a little pop to this sweet-tart side dish. You should totally try it this fall! And it only takes a few minutes to make so you’ve got nothing to lose. 🙂

Cranberry Mint Relish + Ideas for Preserving Fresh Mint | thepajamachef.comAs for all the rest of that mint plant… quite a bit went into that jar of mint sugar on the left and those jars of mint extract on the right. There are tons of tutorials online for both delicacies, but I just layered fresh mint with sugar in one jar and have been shaking it once a day since Sunday. In about a week it’s supposed to be ready to enjoy. I can’t wait! And to make the mint extract I added vodka [eeeekkkkk] to mint that had been gently mashed in a mason jar. There’s a technical term for “mashed” but it’s escaping me at the moment. 🙂 Easy easy! My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him I needed some cheap alcohol for cooking. Hahaha. COOKING not drinking, haha don’t worry. That’s how you do things in homemade-everything-land. We’ll see how they turn out. I’ll have to give you guys an update, k? In the meantime, this cranberry mint relish is FAB so don’t wait til Thanksgiving to enjoy. I can’t wait to taste it on turkey!

one year ago: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Sauce
two years ago: Carnitas
three years ago: Best Pancakes Ever
four years ago: Pumpkin French Toast Sandwich

Cranberry Mint Relish

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed and dried
  • 1 orange, scrubbed clean and cut into eighths
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

Place cranberries, orange, mint, and 1/4 cup sugar in food processor. Pulse until processed to desired consistency. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to set flavors.

Main Dishes, Quinoa, Recipes, Sides, Turkey

Mystery Dish: Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa + Cookbook Giveaway

These Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa are tied together with a creamy mint-almond pesto. An easy, healthy dinner that comes together quickly!

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa | thepajamachef #mysterydish

I had a really tough time with this month’s Mystery Dish. I’m not sure why–pretty much ALL the ingredients on the list are things I love. I was just uninspired I guess. But I don’t think my recipe reflects that… this meal was pretty darn delicious. Andi from Weary Chef was our host and she asked us to use three ingredients from this list: pistachios, wine, mint, gluten-free flour, red pepper flakes, fish, agave nectar, applesauce, blueberries, parmesan cheese, milk, and corn.

A couple weekends ago, we were going to grill turkey burgers [Ben makes a to die for turkey burger with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper] but we were rained out and I had some ground turkey thawed in the fridge. We could have grilled indoors, but instead I decided to make some Mystery Dish magic with these Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa. And you guys… they are so good! I love a good turkey meatball anyway, but add some fresh mint to your typical garlic and onion mixture and they’re definitely amped up a notch. To fulfill the ingredient requirement, I used gluten free flour to help hold the meatballs together and red pepper flakes instead of normal black pepper. In hindsight, I wish I would have used more flour because the meatballs didn’t hold together super well. Though that was three ingredients, I decided to make the flavors even more apparent by making a mint pesto to serve over the meatballs and to toss with the quinoa I decided to serve on the side. If quinoa isn’t your thing, try rice, pasta, or some other grain/starch. Though my pesto wasn’t a true pesto it was still pretty addictive and a great sauce that was nutty, minty, and creamy all at once.

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa | thepajamachef #mysterydish

The mint in this dish balances perfectly with the crushed red pepper. I was somewhat generous with the red pepper flakes, but it was definitely an approachable level of spiciness so if you aren’t a spicy person you’ll be okay here. I was supposed to tell you that that description was Ben’s idea, and I was threatened with a lawsuit if I didn’t. 🙂 Ha ha, a lawsuit from my husband. Moving on… I loved how minty this dish is… enough flavor to make things interesting but not so much you think you’re eating toothpaste. I love having a great repertoire of healthy, easy dinners and I know this dish will go into my usual rotation. Hope you give it a try!

And, as a special treat since we’ve been Mystery Dishin’ it up for a YEAR now [whoa], we have a special giveaway for our lovely readers… copies of cookbooks from MasterChef Season 3 Winner Christine Ha and Season 4 Winner Luca Manfe! I wish I could win! Go HERE to enter.

Enjoy!

one year ago: Roasted Peach Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel 
two years ago: Brown Rice, Feta, and Tomato Salad
three years ago: Healthy “Fried” Rice –> I make this ALL the time with different veggies, meat, and/or tofu. A must try!
four years ago: Cornmeal Pizza Dough in the Breadmaker

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients:

for meatballs

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour [or other flour, gluten free or otherwise + more if you need it]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

for quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water [or stock if preferred]
  • 1 cup prepared pesto [above]

for pesto

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint
  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan
  • crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs–garlic, green onion, mint, flour, egg, turkey, and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste. Mix well with your hands, then shape into 16 meatballs. Place half the meatballs in the preheated skillet and cook on each side for about 2 minutes per side until browned all over. Remove meatballs from skillet and place in a large oven safe dish, misted with cooking spray if not nonstick. Repeat with remaining meatballs then bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

While meatballs are cooking, prepare quinoa according to package directions. Bring rinsed quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

Prepare pesto by combining mint, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons half and half, and almonds in a food processor. Pulse until combined, adding more oil and/or half and half if desired. Stir in parmesan and red pepper flakes to taste. Pesto yields about 1 cup.

When quinoa is ready, pour about 3/4 cup pesto in the quinoa and stir to combine. Serve meatballs with quinoa and reserved mint pesto, along with sides like green beans or crusty bread.

Be sure to check out what my Mystery Dish pals whipped up this month:

Mystery Dish | thepajamachef.com

  1. Tuna Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa by The Weary Chef
  2. Blueberry Scones by Yummy Healthy Easy
  3. Parmesan Crusted Tilapia by Culinary Couture
  4. Minty Berry Fruit Roll Ups by I Want Crazy
  5. Baked Blueberry Donuts by Chez CateyLou
  6. Hearty Minestrone Soup by Joyful Healthy Eats
  7. Blueberry Lemon Pannacotta with Pistachio Tuilles by Flavor the Moments
  8. Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa by The Pajama Chef
  9. Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake by I Dig Pinterest
  10. Pistachio Drop Scones with Blueberry Compote by The Well Floured Kitchen
  11. Grilled Corn & Blueberry Flatbread with Whipped Goat Cheese, Pistachios, and Basil Vinaigrette by Baking a Moment
  12. Pistachio Crusted Tilapia and Peach Salad by Blahnik Baker

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.