Broccoli Rabe & Bison Meatball Sub

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis dish was a result of a couple what-ifs. What if you didn't have to deal with meatballs rolling out of your sub? What if you could make a meatball out of bison -- juicy and flavorful, but also lean? What if you could get a Philly cheesesteak the way you actually want it -- more veggies, cleaner meat, and just a sprinkling of cheese?

And so this broccoli rabe and bison meatball sub was born. This is seriously one of the best things I've ever made. There's the bitterness of the rabe, the sweetness of the onions, the umami of the bison meatballs (and the soy sauce and ketchup inside them), and the oomph of the cheese. But I'd say the real revelation is the baguette end. Go out of your way to get the real deal -- crusty, with that addictive bready je ne sais quoi. Those baguette stubs are game-changers.

RECIPE: Meatballs (adapted from this Whole Foods Recipe): Mix 1 lb ground bison, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp oregano, pinch cayenne pepper, 1 cup Panko, 1 egg. Roll into 1-inch balls and bake in an oven preheated at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Broccoli Rabe and Onions: Dice 1 onion and 6 garlic cloves and saute on high for 3 minutes. Add 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, trimmed of stems (stems are great, but can be a bit cumbersome in a sandwich) and continue to saute for another 7 minutes, until everything is wilted and the onions are browned.

Final Steps: Cut the baguette into the sizes you want (go for the stubs first). Toast. Sprinkle mini cubes of provolone of any other sweet/musty cheese on the rabe and onions. I used Tome de Vache Basque. Using tongs, stuff the baguette with meatballs and veggies, alternating until stuffed 'til the brim.

Baked Panko Falafel with Cucumber Fennel Raita

Baked Panko Falafel I won't make this a healthy eating thing. They're baked! They've been lightened with panko, not bread crumbs or flour! That doesn't really tell you how delicious they are. There are few foods I love more than deep-fried falafel on a plate of cold mezze, but when you're in the mood for something different, there's this.

With baking, you'll get a cookie-like texture similar to a French sablé, not the crackling outside and supple inside of a fried falafel. Plus, panko takes out the guesswork of lightness. A falafel lives and dies by its lightness. Too much flour or breadcrumbs, and the thing turns into a matzoh ball (which is fine, but not what you're doing here).

Bonus brightness comes from lemon and sumac. Who knew that falafel tasted good a little a sour?

RECIPE (adapted from how sweet it is)Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, grind 2 cans of rinsed chickpeas, 6 garlic cloves, 4 scallions, 1 egg, the juice of lemon, 2/3 cup of soft herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, mint), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of aleppo pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of sumac. Process until you have a 50/50 mix of chickpea chunks and a hummus-like mixture. Add 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of panko crumbs, enough to get the dough to cling to itself. Form into patties and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until golden.

For the raita, slice and salt cucumbers and fennel. Drain. Add yogurt, salt, pepper, and olive oil. You can add cumin and red pepper flakes, but I prefer to keep the raita pure when paired against something so aromatic.