Falafel with Tahini

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

From Scratch: 10 Meals, 175 Recipes, and Dozens of Techniques You Will Use Over and Over

From Scratch

By Michael Ruhlman

Published 2019

  • About

The amazing chickpea becomes falafel with the help of herbs and seasonings, and then it becomes a sandwich, with the standard garnishes except for one important addition, thanks to Ann, who wouldn’t stop talking about the roasted eggplant at L’As du Fallafel, a kosher sandwich shop in Paris that serves what some call the best falafel anywhere. It makes wonderful sense to add eggplant to this sandwich. It adds a depth of flavor that none of the other ingredients can provide, plus a welcome hit of moisture. The falafel almost becomes secondary to the warm, creamy eggplant—but not quite. With tahini and a little peanut butter for extra-nutty flavor, this is now one of my favorite sandwiches. Or you could skip the pita and turn this into a falafel and roasted eggplant salad—add more lemon to the tahini and thin it further to use as a dressing.

Ingredients

For the falafel

  • cups/300 grams dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water and drained
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ¾ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup/60 grams diced onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • Vegetable oil, for pan-frying

For the tahini sauce

  • ½ cup/120 milliliters tahini
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and macerated in 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

For the sandwiches

  • 6 (½-inch/1-centimeter-thick) slices peeled eggplant
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 6 tomato slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pitas, store-bought or homemade, cut in half
  • Hummus, store-bought or homemade (optional)
  • 12 thin cucumber slices
  • 4 leaves head lettuce or butter lettuce

Method

Combine all the falafel ingredients except the oil in a food processor and pulse until everything is ground and mixed into a fine meal texture. Form into 20 or so balls the size of golf balls.

Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to come halfway up its sides. Heat the oil over high heat to 350°F/175°C. Working in batches, fry the falafel balls until deep golden-brown, 2 minutes or so. Turn the balls over and cook until they are uniformly browned and cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Combine all the tahini ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. With the blade running, add enough water to thin the sauce to the desired consistency, up to ½ cup/120 milliliters or as needed. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C.

Salt the eggplant slices liberally on both sides and let sit for 10 minutes. Liberally salt the red onion. Gently salt the tomato slices while you’re at it.

Rinse the eggplant, pat dry, brush both sides with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender. You can also broil them to put some color on them.

Rinse the red onion under hot tap water, then pat dry.

Warm the pitas in the oven for 5 minutes or so. To make the sandwiches, first sauce the pitas with the tahini sauce and hummus (if using). Be generous, as you don’t want your sandwich to be dry. Then distribute the falafel, eggplant, tomato, onion, cucumber, and lettuce evenly among the pitas.