It’s coming. You can’t run, and you can’t hide. It’ll find you anyway.
It’s lurking in the cool evening breeze and the pale morning sunshine, persuades the sun to head to bed by 7:30, coaxes out one last harvest of green beans and tomatoes from the garden, and fools that one gullible neighbourhood tree into shedding its summer greenery for bright reds and golds a few weeks ahead of schedule.
Fall is coming, and with it comes the crowds of kids reluctantly walking back to school with oversized backpacks, skinned knees, and stories of their summertime adventures, an annual migration that’s as much a sign of the changing weather as a flock of geese flying south.
It’s been mumblemumble years since I last had to worry about back to school, but there’s something about this time of year that feels like a new beginning. All those back-to-school displays of funky lunchboxes and clever eco-friendly containers make me want to dust off the ol’ lunch bag and replace my summertime ritual of walks to the salad bar with healthier (and cheaper) homemade lunches.
The problem with homemade lunches is that it’s all too easy to fall into a rut. You need to keep it interesting – the same ol’ salami on whole wheat sandwich my father once packed in my grade school lunchbox for nearly a month straight just won’t cut it, I’m afraid. Shake up your routine with pasta or grain salads, raw vegetables with dip or hummus, eggy dishes like quiches and frittatas, and possibly even a thermos full of soup or stew.
Or you can try your hand at making these falafel wraps – they’re anything but boring with their blend of bright flavours and healthy vegetables, and are packed with protein and complex carbohydrates to help you power through the 3pm slump. (Yes, carbs can be good for you, despite what you may have heard. Trust me on this one.)
To prepare this recipe, I used Cuisinart’s SmartStick PowerTrio High Torque Hand Blender with food processor attachment.
As far as kitchen multi-taskers, I think this hand blender is as good as it gets. Aside from being a good ol’ fashioned immersion blender (albeit one with a heavy-duty 400w motor, which is already quite impressive on its own), it also comes two attachments – a whisk and a food processor.
Unlike the previous hand blenders I’ve owned, where the processor attachment is just a glorified mini-chopper, this model comes with what amounts to an honest-to-goodness mini food processor, complete with a chute in the lid to add ingredients (so you can make mayonnaise in it!) and a grating/slicing disc. Plus the 4-cup bowl is actually big enough to handle the whole can of chickpeas required to make the falafel patties, which is a pretty neat trick, I must say.
It makes quick work of shredding or slicing vegetables for salads, finely chops herbs and nuts to make sandwich-worthy pestos, whisks up egg whites for fluffy souffles, and effortlessly purees entire pots of soup faster than you can blink. In other words, the only thing it can’t do is clean up the kitchen when you’re done.
It’s ideal for someone who doesn’t have room in their kitchen for a full-sized processor… like perhaps that university student in your life who’s setting up in residence for the first time? (My kitchen kit in university consisted of two cheapie hand-me-down pots, a small frying pan, a wooden spoon, a paring knife, and a refurbished Braun immersion blender with no attachments whatsoever, so I’d be mightily jealous of any student lucky enough to get one of these babies.)
For this recipe, I used the immersion blender to quickly puree chickpeas into a creamy hummus with a bright lemony flavour, and then switched to the food processor attachment to chop up herbs for a fresh tabbouleh salad and to chop up chickpeas to make falafel patties (since the herbs in the tabbouleh are the same as those in the falafel, you don’t even have to bother cleaning the processor between the two steps).
I know it seems a little time-consuming to prepare the various elements for these pitas, but the hummus and tahini sauce can easily be made several days in advance if necessary. And besides, they’re essential to getting that authentic falafel wrap flavour, and they’re much better for you when homemade. If you’re really pressed for time, though, you can use good-quality storebought hummus and tabbouleh instead of the homemade versions.
PS: If you’re bringing these wraps to work or school, I suggest packing up the various components in separate containers, and then assembling the wrap at the last minute – otherwise, the dressing from the tabbouleh will turn your delicious wrap into a soggy mess. (I use this trick whenever I pack a sandwich for lunch. I firmly believe that pre-assembled sandwiches are never quite as good, particularly after they’ve been sitting in a baggie for a couple of hours.)
I was provided with a SmartStick PowerTrio High Torque Hand Blender by Cuisinart Canada in exchange for creating this post. All opinions are 100% mine.
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup tahini
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Pinch salt
- 1 can (19 ounce) chickpeas
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup roughly chopped parsley
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup cooked bulghur wheat
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (540 ml/19 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and thoroughly drained
- 1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1⁄2 tsp chili flakes
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 4 Middle Eastern style pitas
- Shredded lettuce
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Sliced dill pickles
- Pickled turnips
- In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
- Drain the chickpeas, reserving the canning liquid. Rinse thoroughly.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, paprika and salt in blender. Using the SmartStick with the hand blender attachment, process until smooth and creamy, adding as much of the reserved canning liquid as needed to get a spreadable consistency. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
- Using the SmartStick and the food processor attachment, pulse the parsley and mint until finely chopped.
- Transfer the chopped parsley and mint to a mixing bowl, and toss with the remaining tabbouleh ingredients until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover and chill until ready to use.
- Using the SmartStick and the food processor attachment, process the cilantro, parsley and garlic until very finely minced. Add chickpeas, and pulse until finely chopped, but not completely pureed. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in sweet potato, flour, cumin, chili flakes and salt to make a dense batter that holds its shape when rolled into a ball - if it's too wet, add more flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until it reaches the appropriate consistency.
- Scoop out a dozen golfball-sized portions, and shape into a rounded patties.
- In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, pan-fry the patties in oil for 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp (the patties are fairly fragile, so be gentle when flipping!). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towel to drain.
- To assemble the wraps, carefully pull apart each pita, stopping about halfway around to form a pocket with two flaps.
- Spread with a generous amount of tahini sauce and hummus, then fill the pocket with a handful of tabbouleh, toppings of your choice and 3 falafel patties.
- To close up the wraps, lay a pita down on a plate with the open end facing away from you. Gently tuck the top flap over the filling and back into the sandwich, and continue the rolling motion to create a tight wrap. (If this sounds overly complicated, you can also cut the pitas in half cross-wise, then gently separate each half to make two individual pockets.) Serve immediately.