Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baked Falafel Sandwiches

My office mate Marta shared with me a baked falafel recipe she found online, and Dan & I decided to try it out. She warned that the tahini sauce could use a little more flavor, so I added the zest of one lemon (a trick I read about in Ina Garten's latest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics), and replaced most of the water with more lemon juice (a suggestion Marta gave me), with good results.

Although the falafel patties don't hold together as well as the ones we've made by frying patties made with a 'Fantastic Foods' brand falafel mix, they still brown up nicely and the flavor was noticably better. Plus, making the patties was actually faster, since there's no need to wait for a mix to rehydrate. The baking process (20 minutes on each side) does add time, but part of that is spent prepping the salad and tahini sauce, and I'll take waiting for something to bake over standing over a pan of hot oil any day.

Baked Falafel Sandwiches
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tspn ground cumin
1/2 tspn ground coriander
1/2 tspn salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 Tbspn olive oil

Tahini Sauce:
1/2 cup pure tahini paste (sesame paste)
3 Tbspn lemon juice
3 to 4 Tbspn water, plus more if necessary

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
2 (4-ounce) tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium cucumber, seeded, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
4 whole-wheat pita pocket breads, sliced open

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine all falafel ingredients except 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy. Form mixture into 16 falafel balls and brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, flip falafel balls and bake an additional 20 minutes, until falafel balls are crisp and browned.

Combine tahini, lemon juice and water and stir to incorporate, adding more water to achieve desired consistency. Reserve.

Toss together lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl. Warm pita breads for 2 minutes in oven. Fill each pita with 3/4 cup salad, 4 falafel balls and 1/4 cup tahini sauce.

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