Last week we focused on a traditional Middle-eastern Salad called Tabbouleh, and this week, we have another typical favorite called Falafel. For those who have never enjoyed this, Falafel is made of chickpeas and greek spices, they are deep-fried dumplings that you can enjoy by themselves, or wrap them in a Pita bread, add some chopped onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and tahini sauce, and you have a lovely Falafel wrap that is very filling and has invigorating flavors.
Traditionally, Falafel is fried, however, Kraft’s gave me a fabulous idea to bake or saute the falafel patties instead, which is a healthier alternative to frying. Sure, they won’t be as crispy as the fried version, but wrapped in a sandwich form, you’ll never notice the difference! Jazz it up with some Sour Cream and Tahini on the side, and you’ll devour the entire plate in no time!
2 cans (15 oz. each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup mayonnaise (regular or low-fat)
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped and divided
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp tahini
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup cucumbers, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup greek vinaigrette dressing
2 tbsp oil
6 whole wheat or white pita breads (or pita pockets)
Process the chickpeas, oatmeal, mayo, onions, garlic, cumin and half the cilantro in food processor until smooth. Shape into 18 (2-inch) patties, using about 2-1/2 tbsp. chickpea mixture for each. Place in single layer on baking sheet, and refrigerate for about 15 min.
Meanwhile, mix sour cream, tahini and lemon juice until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, remaining cilantro and dressing.
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add half the falafel patties; cook 3 min. on each side or until browned on both sides. Remove from heat; allow it to cool a bit, then cover to keep them warm. Repeat with remaining oil and patties.
Alternately, if you don’t mind the added fat, go the traditional way and deep-fry the falafel rather than baking/sauteeing it. They taste much better this way.
Assembling the Sandwich
Top each pita with 3 falafel patties, about 4-1/2 tsp. sour cream mixture and 1/3 cup cucumber mixture. Serve immediately with more tahini on the side.
You can also take half a pita sandwich, separate it to make a Pita pocket, and fill it with falafel and toppings. You can buy ready-made pita pockets from your grocery store if you like.