Dressing Ingredients: bleu cheese, mayonnaise, crème fraîche, heavy cream, lemon, shallot powder, scallion, parsley, black pepper, salt.
Served with: falafel, iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, corn, carrot, sriracha.
Falafel is basically a chickpea croquette, flavored with onion, cumin, and coriander. It’s traditionally served tucked into pita bread with raw or pickled vegetables and tahini sauce. I do love a fresh crunchy falafel sandwich (and I frequently sought them out even before going vegetarian), but lately I’ve been wondering something: why is falafel always served exactly the same way?
I decided to do a little brainstorming. I knew I wanted to depart from the typical tahini sauce, but not too far, because un-dressed falafel is pretty dry. So, tahini sauce is made with lemon and garlic, and has a creamy consistency. That gave me the idea to try serving falafel with bleu cheese dressing, which is also lemony, garlicky, and creamy. I figured a nice garden salad would pair safely with the dressing, while the falafel balls acted as croutons. I also wanted to incorporate some hot sauce, since it’s used not only as a condiment for falafel sandwiches, but also in the mouthwatering combo of bleu cheese dressing and Buffalo-style chicken wings.
To make the dressing, I started by mixing mayonnaise, crème fraîche, lemon juice, and heavy cream. I then mashed in some room-temperature bleu cheese, and blended everything to a smooth consistency. I seasoned the dressing with salt, black pepper, and shallot powder, then added diced scallion and fresh parsley. [Can anyone out there actually taste dried parsley? It literally tastes like dust to me.] Finally, I crumbled in more bleu cheese, and stored the finished dressing in the fridge to let the flavors permeate.
I used a boxed mix for the falafel, which came out excellent as usual. I had a fresh ear of corn in the fridge, so I decided to boil that and slice it off the cob for my salad. I also used iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and carrot. I tossed the salad with the dressing, got artsy with the tomatoes and hot sauce, snapped some photos, then sat down to eat.
My first impression after one forkful of the salad was “wow this is good.” The dressing was perfect, right up there with Morton’s sublime (and inspirational) Iceberg Wedge Salad. The hot sauce was an interesting touch, too. The falafel … was a little out of place. Okay you win, Universe, I will just stick it in a pita with tahini sauce next time.
Or will I?