Today is St Jean-Baptiste Day in Québec. Québec feels like a second home to me since my mum moved there in the mid-90s.
The first time I went to Montreal, I was aimlessly taking in the scenery along Rue Ste-Catherine and happened upon a tiny shop selling falafel. I entered and found a small counter service area and a few tables to enjoy your food. The matriarch running the restaurant was the most passionate woman. She was eager to tell me about all of the toppings within the falafel wrap. The glowing, brightly coloured, beet-hued marinated turnips. The slightly exotic nature to their pickles and the variety of sides she offered with it.
Taboulleh with hints of mint and sumac. Hummus with drizzles of Lebanese olive oil and hints of paprika and more sumac. It was such an overwhelming culinary experience that its flavours will linger with me for the rest of my life.
To honour St Jean-Baptiste Day in Québec (ou Fête Nationale du Québec en français), I wanted to recreate that experience with the flavours of my home now. And think of that wonderful woman, thankful of the moments we shared and smile as I eat this falafel all these years later.
Super Summery Green Falafel Wrap
200g/7 oz dry chickpeas
4-6 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh summer savoury leaves or fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large bowl covered with plenty of water. Or for a quicker soak method, cover the chickpeas with plenty of water in a large pot, bring to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Take off the heat, keeping the lid on the pot and allow to soak for one hour. Drain, reserving 1-1/4 cups of the soaking water.
In a blender, add the soaked chickpeas, chickpea water, green onions, chives, summer savoury and salt. Pulse and purée until nearly smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
Scoop out one tablespoon of the mixture and form into a small ball. Press into a patty and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. You can freeze these at this point and when they are frozen solid, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. Makes 24 bite-sized falafels.
100 mL/4 oz asparagus pickles (or any of your favourite pickle)
50 mL/2 oz Quick Chilli Pickle (recipe below) (you could just use pickled banana peppers in a pinch, if you like)
100 mL/4 oz Garlic-Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)
8 Prepared Super Summer Green Falafels
4 cups loosely packed fresh arugula
8 radishes, thinly sliced
4 Red Fife Flour Flatbreads, or your favourite wrap or pita
For the Quick Chilli Pickle:
2 long red finger chillis, thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, honey and salt until smooth. Add the slices of chilli and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
For the Garlic-Yogurt Sauce:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and garlic. Set aside for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to blend.
Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil and when the oil smoulders but not smokes, add the falafel and fry on each side for 4-5 minutes or until deeply golden. If you try to flip them too soon, the mixture is too soft and will mash against itself. With patience, the falafel will form a natural crust, holding it together. Fry on the other side for a further 4-5 minutes. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
Add a handful of arugula to the bottom of each flatbread. Lay out the radish slices, Garlic-Yogurt Sauce, asparagus pickles and Quick Chilli Pickle over the arugula. Top with fried falafels. Serves 2-3.