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Super, super-easy falafel sandwich. June 12, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. If you’re like me, you’re pretty much up for Middle Eastern and Greek food at all times, and falafel sandwiches are a definite fave. But until a few days ago, I’d never succeeded in making a decent one at home.

The key is in the falafel patties. When you get them at a restaurant, they’re fried, so the outside is lusciously crunchy and the inside is tender and succulent. When you buy falafel patties in a grocery and heat them up at home, unless you’re prepared to fry them—which I’m not, I won’t fry anything and have to deal with all that grease—they just won’t get crunchy. And even a flavorful falafel patty is a sad thing if it isn’t nice and crunchy. After numerous tries with numerous brands, I’d pretty much abandoned hope and resigned myself to forgoing falafel sandwiches unless I was in a restaurant that served them, maybe a twice-yearly treat.

Or so I thought. Our friend Ben and I were shopping at our local Giant this past weekend when OFB made a beeline for their section of ready-to-go deli goods. Before I could even say “Ben, what are you doing?!!” our grocery cart seemed to be filling up with jalapeno poppers, deviled eggs and the like. I was about to start complaining when I saw that they had falafel patties. Oh, sheesh, I thought, here we go again. But it had been such a long time since I’d had a falafel sandwich that I decided to try one last time, and the package of falafel patties joined OFB’s loot in the cart.

As fans of falafel know, a traditional falafel sandwich is made by putting fried falafel patties in a Middle Eastern-style (thin-walled) pita with shredded lettuce, diced cucumber and tomato, and tahini sauce. I wanted to tweak the recipe to make it heartier and easier to eat. Fortunately, our Giant happened to have Sabra Tzatziki Sauce, the fabulous Greek dip made with Greek yogurt and lots of garlic, minced cucumber and dill. I snagged a carton, along with a package of Stonefire Mediterranean-Style Pita Pockets, which are smaller and considerably thicker than the Lebanese-style pitas. (Stonefire also makes the fabulous Indian naan you can now buy in most groceries.)

I wanted something heartier and less liquid than the typical lettuce, tomato and cuke filling, and, since cukes were already in the tzatziki sauce anyway, I figured I’d just go with two coleslaw staples I had at home: shredded carrots and red cabbage.

This left the issue of the falafel patties: How to crisp them up without frying? Suddenly, I had (in the immortal words of a dear friend’s mother) a rush of brains to the head. I put the patties on a sheet of aluminum foil in a tray in our convection/toaster oven and drizzled them with olive oil. Oil! The missing link! Then I turned the oven to 250 degrees F. and let them sizzle. The heat was enough to crisp the outside, but low enough not to dry out the inside.

When I could see that the oil was bubbling, I split the pitas in half, forming two pockets from each pita, and set them on top of the falafel patties until they were heated through. Then I turned off the oven, took out the pita halves and opened them up, spread a generous amount of tzatziki sauce on the inside of each pita half, added two falafel patties to each half, then stuffed in the shredded carrots and red cabbage and patted the whole thing down to condense it to a size more appropriate for an easy bite.

Success!!! It may not have been traditional, but it was perfect, and perfectly delicious. Oh, yum!!! The olive oil gave the falafel patties the exact outer crunch they needed, while the inside remained tender, and the patties absorbed the drizzle of oil so there was no fuss, no muss, unlike frying. The thicker pitas contained all the ingredients with no breakage or dripping like thinner pitas. The tzatziki sauce, as I’d expected, was simply delicious with the falafel, and the shredded carrots and red cabbage were the perfect complements.

I can’t wait to get back to Giant and get more of the baseline ingredients. So easy, so good!!! You might want to go for other sandwich stuffings, from the traditional ones (tahini, tomato, cucumber, and lettuce) to adding minced sweet onion, parsley, cilantro, shredded kale, you name it. You could be a rebel and add horseradish sauce or ranch/Dijon mustard dressing instead of tahini or tzatziki. I expect it would be delicious any way you made it, as long as you crisp up the falafel patties and add plenty of sauce! Whatever you do, enjoy.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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