If I have a great talent in the kitchen, it is to find the path of least resistance towards the flavors that I want to put in my mouth. Most of my meals are prepared by considering the factors at play – what I want to eat most, what ingredients I have, and my willingness to embark on a project – then brainstorming together a route to dinner that ticks. as many squares as possible. The goal is maximum efficiency and maximum reward, everything I want and nothing I don’t want. It’s a bit crazy but above all fun! I call this mentality the workaround.
A recent success from Workaround is the Big Falafel Cake, a recipe I developed to meet the particular need for falafel without the frying. While I would always like to eat falafel, with its crispy, steep edges and tender, herbaceous interior, I usually leave the preparation to the professionals. Not only does home frying seem like a heavy load, but I’m also not the type of girl to remember to soak my chickpeas overnight before I need them. I thought this meal was a perfect candidate for a workaround.
So when I was craving falafel on a weeknight, I decided to oversize it and use the oven, making an XL Baked Falafel Cake rather than individual donuts. The base comes fully assembled in the food processor, making it both quick to fill and easy to clean up afterwards. First, you mix together the red onion, garlic, herbs and spices (plus a little baking powder for leavening and a little starch for cohesion) until your biggest chunks onions are about the size of chickpeas. Next, you’ll add two cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas and an egg, pulsing to break down and combine. Because canned chickpeas are more tender and less likely to hold their shape than soaked dried chickpeas, be careful not to overmix the mixture or you’ll end up with hummus. Some coarse texture is needed, so it’s better to err on less broken down than too much (which is also why we do the onion and garlic first, which can’t be too blitzed) .
Finally, to bake the cake, you’ll transfer the mixture to a hot, oiled skillet to crisp the bottom, then pop it all in the oven to finish cooking. Inverting the finished cake onto a plate to serve will have the golden side up, deliciously bronzed and asking you to cut it into wedges. It’s not a super crispy fried falafel, but a lightly crispy cake with that same tender, grassy interior., flavored with cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper for an incomparable falafel flavor. To make it a meal, serve it with a side salad (I like pickled cucumbers and red onions, but a green salad or tomato salad would also be great) and a drizzle of yogurt sauce for a little creamy richness.
Baked falafel cake definitely prioritizes efficiency with its speed, reliance on most fridge and pantry staples, and avoidance of any technique that might me discouraged on a Wednesday night. But based on how often I come back to the recipe, this might just be a dream dinner, not the best dinner I could make, after all – a workaround meal that beat the odds of become a regular part of the rotation.