Don’t you wish that the recipe for that unforgettable dish you had last night was published in a cookbook somewhere? Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s unadvisable to give all the secrets away. But that’s bulls***. I still go to Momofuku when I can even though I have the cookbook with the recipe for the unforgettable XO sauce. And I would fly across the country in a second to eat Versailles’ garlic chicken, even though I’ve gotten pretty close to the real thing in my own kitchen.
Noelle Carter at the LA Times has a great column called Culinary SOS where she (with the credentials of an LA Times food columnists) approaches restaurants for their secret recipes requested by readers.
I would kill for the bed borscht recipe at Lomzynianka in Greenpoint or the tempura green bean recipe from Red Cat in Chelsea. And would pay a hefty sum of money for the Zankou chicken tahini sauce recipe. Ohh and Chin Chin’s chinese chicken salad dressing – you cant really put a price on something so perfect.
But how about chain restaurants The crappy places we New Yorkers frequent at lunch because we can’t bother to pack our own lunches and we work in culinary wastelands like the financial district. It’s often the case that the food truck parked around the corner doesn’t take cash and your bank is just too far away…thus you end up back at Pret a Manger for the third time this week.
So you would be insane to want to eat that processed crap you eat for lunch everyday at home for dinner right?
Answer: Wrong, you haven’t had Pret a Manger’s red pepper falafel wrap.
If you haven’t had one, I suggest you go to your nearest Pret and eat one, or try my version below. I don’t even like wraps, but this one is very special.
I’m using homemade baked falafel in an attempt to be healthy and not have my apartment (and hallway) smell like a halal cart for the next 48 hours.
I’m embarassed to say I ate TWO of these bad boys last weekend. One on Saturday because the brunch place I wanted to try was closed and once on Sunday because it was just too easy. And hey, sometimes even I don’t feel like cooking.
So, low an behold, you will find a recipe that very closely resembles Pret a Manger’s delicious devil of a wrap. I used tortillas with a 9-inch diameter but I imagine using something bigger would make for a better and neater roll. I’m sure the Pret staff has had years of training in wrap wrapping and mine are a bit pathetic.
Red Pepper Falafel Wrap
Makes 4 wraps
You will need:
For the falafel:
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 Tablespoon for cooking
For the red peppers:
2 red bell peppers
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the tomato sauce:
1 15 oz can cherry tomatoes (or regular san marzanos, crushed)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion (whole)
For the wrap:
4 large flour tortillas
3/4 cups grated cheese (I used a mix of swiss and cheddar)
1. Make the tomato sauce by pouring the entire can of tomatoes into a medium-sized skillet with the butter and the onion (face down). Bring to boil and then simmer for at least 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a wooden spoon to mash all the tomatoes into a sauce, set aside.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Make the red peppers: Core and seed the peppers, slice into thin strips and mix with the onion and olive oil on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and roast for about 15 minutes so that some of the peppers begin to blacken. Remove the peppers and onions from the tray toa bowl to cool for about 10 minutes. Pulse a few times in a food processor until roughly chopped-set aside. Clean out your food processor for the falafel.
3. Make the falafels by combining the chick peas (drained), parsley, cilantro, cumin, garlic powder, salt and minced onion and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a food processor. Pulse a few times until completely ground. I had a sort of paste which flattened out in the oven but was still delicious.
4. Cook the falafels by lining the baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a small ping-pong sized ball onto the sheet and repeat (you will have 12-16 falafels). Cook for 10-15 minutes until the underside is browned and then flip if you can and cook for another 5 minutes. Your falafels will be delicate baking them doesn’t create that same crusty shell that deep frying does.
5. Assemble the falafels two at a time. Place a fresh sheet of parchment on your baking sheet. Lay two tortillas flat and using the back of a spoon first spread about 2 Tablespoons of tomato sauce on each tortilla, then follow with about 1 Tablespoon of red peppers. Then sprinkle 1/4th of the grated cheese and place 2-3 falafels in a line in the center. Bake for 5 minutes in the 400 degree oven so the cheese melts completely.
6. When the tortillas cool slightly (about 5 minutes), make the wraps by folding about 2 inches of the bottom of the tortilla up and then fold each side over the center. You will have 2 messy, poorly constructed but entirely delicious wraps unless you are a master burrito roller. Tie with kitchen twine if you have it and heat in the oven for 3 minutes. Repeat for the other two.