Sautéed Falafel

Sauteed FalafelFalafel are a favorite of connoisseurs of street food from Jerusalem to New York City.  Made with ground dried chickpeas or fava beans, they’re hot, peppery, meaty, inexpensive, and satisfying – a handy little meal in a pita pocket.  Given that we’re starting with canned beans instead of dried beans and that we sauté the falafel rather than deep-fry it, this version is both quicker to make and less caloric than the standard recipe…but no less lovable.

Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Total preparation time: 30 minutes

4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/3 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup packaged panko or dried bread crumbs
1 recipe Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)
Two 6-inch pitas with pockets, halved
1/4 head romaine lettuce heart, rinsed, dried, and shredded (about 1/2 cup)

1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute; transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse 1/2 cup of the chickpeas in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade until coarsely chopped; add to the onion mixture. Process the remaining chickpeas until they are very finely ground; stir into the onion mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then fold in the egg, flour, and baking soda.

Shape the mixture into four 1/2-inch thick patties and coat on both sides with panko crumbs. Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot; reduce heat to medium. Add the patties and cook until crisp and golden on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed.

Meanwhile, prepare the Tahini Sauce. To serve, tuck a falafel into each of the pita halves with some shredded romaine and carrot; drizzle with some of the Tahini Sauce.

Tahini Sauce: Whisk together 1/4 cup tahini paste, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Fold in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and serve. Makes 2/3 cup, hands-on time: 10 minutes, total preparation time: 10 minutes

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