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Falafel Sandwich with Tomato-Cucumber Salad

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Serves four.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 100

Falafel are usually deep-fried, but pan-searing these chickpea fritters is healthier (and not as messy). Serve them in pita bread, topped with thick yogurt or tahini sauce, if you like.

  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup plain fine dry breadcrumbs; more as needed
  • 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium pickling cucumber or 1/3 English cucumber, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 pitas, warmed

Heat the oven to 425°F.

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, 2 Tbs. of the oil, the cumin, coriander, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper into a chunky paste. Add the onion and breadcrumbs and pulse until the mixture tightens up. You should be able to easily form it into a patty—add more breadcrumbs as needed. Gently form the chickpea mixture into twelve 1/2-inch-thick patties.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add 6 of the patties and cook until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other sides until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the patties to a baking sheet. Repeat with 2 Tbs. more oil and the remaining six patties. Bake the patties until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and cucumber with the lemon juice, the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and salt to taste.

Split the pitas and stuff them with the falafel and tomato-cucumber salad.

Serving Suggestions

Savor this sandwich with a side of Grilled Eggplant with Feta and Herbs.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 640; Fat (g): fat g 28; Fat Calories (kcal): 250; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 4; Protein (g): protein g 18; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 18; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 80; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 920; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 12;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Loved this. Very easy to make with ingredients that are often on hand. Served it with a yogurt/dill sauce and arugula as well as garden fresh tomatoes and cukes. I didn't mind how loose it was inside. Loved the golden brown outside. I bought mini pitas and set it up like a taco bar. Kids could pick what they put inside their little tiny sandwiches. Fun and full of protein.

I found that the ingredients did not bind together well enough. The patties fell apart in the pan when I was cooking the first batch. Adding bread crumbs alone did not improve the situation so I added an egg to the second batch and the result was much better. Also, I think the amount of recommended salt and spices was a bit conservative, so I had to add a bit more salt, coriander and cumin to flavor the falafel mix. I also added some finely minced Italian parsely to the second batch to get some of that nice green coloring and parsely taste into the falafel. This might also be better with sauteed rather than raw onions in the chickpea mixture. That said, this recipe is WAY better than boxed falafel mix and I would make it again, but will slightly tweak the recipe the next time around.

I agree with the other reviewers that the texture on these was very mushy and it was difficult to get a crunch on them. I think next time I'll try breading them to see if I can get a crunchy coating that will help bind them better.

Much better than the boxed mixes. Don't over-process the mix. This makes a great hiking food.

Mine turned out a little bit too mushy for my liking. Is this what happens when you don't deep fry them? I like the crispy texture they get when deep fried, but don't like all the oil. They were tasty though.

When I made this it turned out mushy. Could I have added too much bread crumb?

I prefer falafel to be slightly on the soft side so I usually take them out about 15-30 seconds of cooking time less the suggested. To me they are tastier that way. I also add some dried mint or cilantro to the mixture before processing.

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