Monday, April 27, 2009
Pan-Fried Falafel Pitas
Holy vegetarian, Batman! This is one of those meals that convinces me that yes, I could do the whole vegetarian thing if I so desired. I did it once before, for nine months in high school, but my palate was less sophisticated then. The only things I ate as a teenage vegetarian were pasta, cereal, eggs, and cheese. That was back when I thought I didn't like beans or vegetables. Ha, teenage vegetarian self, I laugh at you now. If only you knew such beautiful things as falafel existed. And better yet, a healthy version of falafel.
This recipe produces a non-greasy, non-heavy, non-oh-my-god-what-did-I-just-eat patties of chickpeas, herbs and spices. I'll admit they don't look gorgeous, and I had trouble getting them to stay in one piece, but it didn't really matter. I whipped up a beautiful sauce (recipe included below) and the whole thing tied together wonderfully. It's sort of a deconstructed hummus. In a word, yum.
I've included my suggestions for veggies to include in the pita sandwich below, but you could certainly include whatever veggies you'd like. I'd try to stick to just two, as anything more than that and you'll suddenly be trying to bite into a middle Eastern-style Chipotle burrito.
Pan-Fried Falafel Pitas
adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Eat Well
14.5 oz. can no salt added garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
small handful chives, torn
2 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (or more) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup tahini
juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons EVOO, divided
salt to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
6 or so leaves lettuce
2 whole wheat pitas, warmed and halved
1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas with chives, garlic and parsley and process until coarsely pureed. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in baking powder and cumin. Chill mixture until cold, at least half an hour.
2. While the falafel mixture is chilling, make the sauce. Whisk together tahini and lemon juice. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO, pinch salt and red pepper flakes. Add water to thin out the sauce to a pourable consistency. Set aside.
3. When the falafel mixture is cold, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, use wet hands to form small patties, about 2-3 inches in diameter, from the falafel mixture. You should get about 8 patties out of it. Place into the oil in the pan. Cook as many patties at a time as will fit without touching. Cook, turning once, until both sides are browned, about 6 minutes. If you have to do the falafel in batches, add more EVOO as necessary between batches.
4. Build your pita sandwich - put in the lettuce and red bell pepper, followed by 2 falafel patties (depending on size) per half pita. Serve with sauce on the side or drizzled over the falafel.