Recipe Redux: Black-eyed pea and zucchini falafel

It's Recipe Redux time again! This month's theme is Good Luck Foods, and we were instructed to create a recipe using foods people typically eat on New Year's Day to bring good luck for the year: things like long noodles (to promote longevity), pomegranates (which symbolize prosperity), and pork (symbolizes progress).

Black-eyed peas are a traditional New Year's Day food in the south. It is thought that the legumes were originally planted to feed livestock, but during the Civil War when many crops were destroyed or stolen, the black-eyed peas remained and became a household staple and a symbol of luck and prosperity.

When I eat black-eyed pea falafel, I feel pretty darn lucky, too.

Falafel is a common Greek food traditionally made with mashed chickpeas and deep-fried. These are lightened up a bit with shredded zucchini and a quick browning in a skillet. I make falafel regularly, and let me tell you this: swapping out chickpeas for softer black-eyed peas in my well-loved recipe results in the most luxuriously creamy interior. It's just divine.

Get your beans rinsed, people. We're making falafel. Remember this tzatziki recipe and that whole wheat pita recipe? Yeah, you're going to need that.
It's really no wonder why black-eyed peas are lucky when you check out their stats: in a half cup of cooked beans, you get 20 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber (about 1/3 of your daily needs), 71 mg calcium, 8 mg iron, 1150 mg potassium (25% DV), and 530 mcg folic acid (133% DV). Beans and legumes make a great high-protein alternative to meat, and they're incredibly versatile. I like to suggest that people make 1 day per week meat-free: it saves money, forces a bit of creativity, and gives you a chance to eat a variety of nutrient-dense protein foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and eggs.
I often use meat-free Monday as an excuse to make falafel.
Black-eyed pea and zucchini falafel
Serves 4 (about 18 patties)

2/3 cup dried black-eyed peas (if using canned, use 300 grams rinsed canned beans and skip step 1)
1 large zucchini, grated
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons cup high-heat oil (like canola or refined olive)
  1. Rinse the black-eyed peas and pick out any that are broken or discolored. Transfer to a small saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 60-90 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain the cooked beans (will be around 300 grams) and dump into a large bowl. Mash the beans slightly with a fork to break them up. Add the zucchini, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Combine thoroughly. 
  3. Form the mixture into round, flat patties about 3 inches in diameter (each of my patties weigh 40 grams). 
  4. Heat oil over medium-high heat and lightly brown the patties for about 2 minutes on each side. You may have to add more oil to the pan between batches. 
  5. Serve stuffed in a pita pocket with greens, red onion, and tzatziki.

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