I received a review copy of Muffin Tin Chef — a book of 101 recipes cooked in various sizes of muffin tins.
Unless books are labeled vegetarian or vegan, I am wary. It is amazing how many things people will add meat to! But I figured, it’s a review copy. If it’s bad, I just won’t review it!
The book is written by Matt Kadey, a dietician. According to the introduction, the pros of cooking in muffin tins:
- shorter cooking times
- built-in portion control
- good for kids
- easy to pack
- conversation topic for entertaining
I flipped through the book — breakfast, appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, desserts — and added a sticky note to about two dozen recipes that looked good that we could try. (Good = tasty + not too complicated + no weird-to-our-pantry ingredients) I passed the book off to The Big Man and asked him to move the stickies on the ones he was willing to try — and he moved all of them!
So far, we’ve tried three recipes from the book. I’m going to share our favorite: Falafels with Asparagus Hummus.
I confess: we failed the first time we made these, but not because the recipe is complicated. It calls for dry chick peas to be soaked overnight. We glazed over that part, saying, “We already have soaked and cooked chick peas in the freezer. We can use those.” Except the recipe does not call for them to be cooked, just soaked. So our falafel were gooey in the middle. Texture fail, but they tasted good, so we gave them another shot, actually following the directions this time…
We made the accompanying hummus, which neither of us were huge fans of (I thought it was too lemony, but most hummus recipes are too lemony for me; The Big Man didn’t tell me what he didn’t care for), but the falafel were so good that this is still our choice for which recipe to publish. (Broccoli Bean Cakes with Garlic-Lemon-Butter Sauce came in second.)
These were listed as an appetizer, but falafel is definitely a meal in a vegetarian home!
I did take photos, but their photo is so much nicer…
Falafels with Asparagus Hummus
Very popular in the Middle East, falafels are often fried in copious amounts of oil. This baked version saves a bunch of calories but retains all the flavor. You could also use a store-bought hummus.
- 1½ cups dried chickpeas
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ cup tightly packed chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ bunch green asparagus (about ½ pound), woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest juice of ½ lemon
- a dash or two of cayenne pepper (optional)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
For the Falafel: Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight or at least several hours.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, and transfer to a food processor along with the remaining falafel ingredients. Process until the mixture is grainy but not a paste. You want a texture similar to bottled minced garlic. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours. This helps the falafels hold together during baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Divide the chickpea mixture among 24 mini muffin cups, making sure to firmly pack each muffin mold to ensure they hold together during cooking. Bake until set and golden on top, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before unmolding.
For the Hummus: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the asparagus to the pot, return the water to boil, and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the ice water and let sit for 5 minutes. This helps keep the asparagus bright green and prevents it from going mushy. Add the edamame to the pot of boiling water, return to a boil, and cook until the beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the edamame to a food processor. Drain the asparagus well, pat dry with a paper towel, and add to the food processor along with the garlic, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, if using, and salt and black pepper to taste. Blend until the asparagus is broken down. With the processor running, pour in the olive oil through the feed tube and process until smooth and the asparagus is no longer fibrous, 1 to 2 minutes. Add more oil if needed to reach the desired consistency. Serve with the falafels.