Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Green Kitchen Encounter Numero Uno: Herb & Pistachio Falafels + Frozen Pink Cheesecake

I'm not sure about you, but I know my family are sick and tired of hearing “Green Kitchen Stories this”, “Green Kitchen Stories that”, “David and Luise think”….  Etc, etc. It’s as if they’re part of our extended family that we never get to see! Hopefully they’ll never read this - they might be slightly freaked out. I realised though, that I never wrote about the first few things I made from the Green Kitchen: falafels and cheesecake.

In many ways, it was these two dishes that set in motion the cascade which has found me pouring over internet sites that sell ‘gourmet’ ingredients, as well as haunting the isles of stores such as the likes of Mrs Flannery’s. I made it to celebrate the end of my first year at university, a year which I very nearly did not finish. Thanks to the support of friends and family however, I managed to survive and I can’t be more glad that I stayed. I absolutely love what I’m studying and can’t even begin to imagine being anything other than a university student at this stage of my life.

After making these, I was absolutely desperate to have another go in the kitchen; it was my first time planning and preparing a meal for my family by myself (ok, Mum might have helped a lot bit) and I was bursting to do it again. Unfortunately though, I was due at the university’s other campus the next day. This involved moving up there for labs we had to complete… it was great fun though, living with my then-strangers-now-friends for two weeks. The kitchen at home hadn’t gone anywhere while I was away either, so it was still there for me to ruin when I came back :-)

Herb & Pistachio Falafel (adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
Serves 4 (about 24 falafels)

8 sprigs fresh mint
8 sprigs fresh parsley
200 g pistachio nuts
2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic
½ small onion
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cashew nut dressing (recipe below)
Mint yoghurt (recipe below)
Tomato chilli salsa (recipe below)
1 head white cabbage (or any lettuce with big leaves)
Assorted fresh herbs
Extra pistachios


1. Blend the herbs in a food processor for around 30 seconds, before adding the pistachio nuts and pulsing until well combined.

2. Add the chickpeas,  garlic, onion, oil, cumin, flour and baking powder and process for a further minute.

3. Scoop out the mixture with a spoon and make 24 small round falafels.

4. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the falafels, turning occasionally, until they are brown and slightly crisp on the outside.

5. Separate the leaves of the cabbage/lettuce by removing the stem/cone with a knife before placing the vegetable under some gently running water and removing the leaves one by one. 

6. Hold one cabbage/lettuce leaf in your non-dominant hand and place 2 or 3 falafels inside the cup-shape formed.

7. On top of the falafels, add a dollop of cashew dressing, mint yoghurt and tomato salsa and garnish with fresh herbs, chopped pistachios and raisins.

8. Fold the leaf over gently and serve. I opted to put each of the components (falafels, leaves, dressings and other toppings) in the middle of the table and get everyone to serve themselves (saved me a fair bit of work!).

Note: In step 4, GKS bakes them a 200°C for about 15 minutes, turning them every 15 minutes in order to get an even brown colour. I, however, ran out of time to do this as a little toaster oven is all I had and I would have had to do it in about three batches…

Cashew Nut Dressing: Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until they are combined.

6 Tbsp cashew butter
6 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Mint Yoghurt: Add yoghurt, mint and lime in a bowl and stir until combined. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the mint flavour to seep through the entire mixture.

1 cup natural yoghurt
4 sprigs of fresh mint (chopped)
Juice of 1 lime

Tomato Chilli Salsa: Place everything in a serving bowl and stir, adding salt and pepper to taste. This can either be served immediately or be left to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to achieve a more intense flavoured salsa.

3 tomatoes, finely diced
½ red chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
Fresh oregano
Salt & pepper

Frozen Pink Cheesecake (adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)


300 g (2 cups) almonds
12 dates, pitted
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of salt

2 cups fresh (or frozen) mixed berries (depends on what colour you’re after as to what mix you use – I used a mixture of raspberries and blueberries)
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ cup honey
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup full-fat Greek yoghurt


1. In a food processor, grind the almonds for around one minute.

2. Add the dates, coconut oil and salt and blend until combined. Scoop out a little bit of the mixture and try to form a ball – if the mixture does not hold together, add more dates.

3. Place the mixture in an 8” non-stick spring-form pan and flatten it out evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place in the fridge while making the filling.

4. Rinse the food processor and then into it, place the berries, lemon juice and honey. Blend.

5. Transfer the blended berries into a large bowl and stir in the mascarpone and Greek yoghurt.

6. Pour the berry mixture on top of the crust in the pan and place it in the freezer for 1-2 hours. It can be left in the freezer for days but it should be taken out to thaw slightly before serving.

7. If desired, top the cheesecake with fresh fruit and edible flours (clearly I wasn’t bothered to do this) and serve immediately.

The first time I tried this cheesecake I made the mistake of using natural yoghurt instead of Greek yoghurt. I’m a big fan of citrus desserts but some members of my family aren’t so it was a little bit too tart for them when the natural yoghurt was paired with the lemon juice. It was still delicious though! No, I didn’t make a lemon-berry cheesecake on purpose if that’s what you were thinking… it was a mistake, I swear ;-)

- Matilda

1 comment:

  1. my golly gosh that cheesecake looks divine O___O!!
    And so do the falafels! Yummers.