Baked Saffron Falafel

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How have y’all been?! My trip back home to Augusta, GA and to my Mom’s wedding in Charleston, SC was good. I was surprised at the amount of gluten-free and free-from choices there are at the grocery stores now. I guess I’m used to the way it was 10 years ago. I was worried about my son. He can’t have any dairy because his eczema flares up. I don’t know if y’all know or not, but dairy is in just about EVERYTHING in the South. Some form of it ends up in everything: milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk. So I was thankful that I found Daiya cheese and a plethora of soy milk for him. I was, however, disappointed with the resort where my Mom’s wedding was held. I’ll go more into detail in another post later this week about our trip. So, let’s get on to the fartiness goodness, shall we?

We had baked saffron falafels Monday night. Last night we had Nutrition Stripped’s You Won’t Believe It’s Not Alfredo, Alfredo. I can’t blog about it because of her policy, but y’all have GOT to try it. That dish ALWAYS goes down well in our house.

I had the Baked Saffron Falafel from Green Kitchen Stories in my collection for a while now. I don’t know if y’all know this, but I love anything that has to do with saffron. I find that saffron lends such a beautiful hint of a flavor to anything.

Crocus
Image: Herb-Plants.net 

When you look at saffron, it has such a deep, rich, and beautiful color. I was first introduced to saffron when the Hubs took me to an Indian restaurant when I first moved to Canada. I’ve never really paid attention to this delicate thing before. When I saw saffron rice I had to give it a try, and then I fell in love with it. I made paella quite often when we were first married because I loved the saffron in it.

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Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice because it’s actually the dried stigmas from the Saffron Crocus flower. It can only be hand-picked in the fall when the flower is in full bloom. So, imagine how many flowers were picked just go fill up that teeny tiny white envelope in your little spice jar.

This is what the Flavor Thesaurus says:

Saffron is inimitable. Turmeric, safflower and annatto are often used in its stead but can only hope to impart an approximation of its color, and maybe a little saffron-ish bitterness. Saffron combines the flavors of the sea air, sweet dried grass and a hint of rusting metal–it’s the spice equivalent of Derek Jarman’s garden on the bleak rocky beach at Dungeness, defiantly strange and beautiful. This rarefied, and accordingly expensive, spice is most often paired with sweet ingredients, especially those ale enough on the eye and palate to show off its color and complex flavor–rice, bread, fish, potatoes, cauliflower and white beans. It also combines well with other bitter flavors, like almonds or citrus zest, and is especially harmonious with other bittersweet florals like rose.

And this is what my Cook’s Wisdom says:

In flavor, saffron, the stigmas of a type of crocus, is pungent and earthy, with a slight bitterness. When soaked in liquid, it turns the liquid a dark yellow. Because it must be hand-picked, and because each crocus has only three stigmas, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice.

So there you go. I didn’t realize each flower had only three stigmas. That’s why.

This recipe is REALLY easy to make. You basically put everything in the food processor and let it go.

And guess what you do next? You form them into little balls and then bake! This is the part where the little one wanted to help make supper. He just ended up making a smooshy mess on my silicone baking sheet, but that was ok. He thought he was helping and he was having fun. I will tell you that my balls were wet. I don’t know if it’s because I just used regular gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of buckwheat flour or what, but they were.

The recipe says you should get about 24 balls. I had half that number. Also I didn’t flip them every 5 minutes either. Call my lazy or whatever, but I just couldn’t stand by the oven for 15-20 minutes flipping them every 5 min. So, I took the lazy way out. I let them sit in there for about 25 min just because they were so wet. And you know what? There was no harm done. They came out just fine.

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It’s probably sacrilege to have falafels without a tzatziki sauce or something, but we did. Call us heathens. The little one had his with ketchup. That boy has ketchup on his ketchup and will eat it straight if I’d let him. Sigh.

Anyways, the falafels were just fab. The Hubs ate two plates and even took the leftovers for lunch the next day. Because there are chickpeas in the falafels just be prepared to be stinky, depending on how fast they hit your system. I was stinky that evening.

So, if you have no commitments that evening, this would be a perfect dish to make. Make sure you have tzatziki and pita though. There’s a lovely tahini sauce recipe to go with this.

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