Let's spend some time discussing my very favorite food of all time and definitely my favorite sandwich. A pita, stuffed with crispy hot falafel, cool, crunchy tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and drenched (I like it drenched) with nutty tahini sauce is the quintessential Middle Eastern fast food. And it's one, I'm happy to say, that has risen dramatically in popularity here in the United States as well.
My home in New York City comes with the advantage of lots of Middle Eastern food restaurant options and falafel sandwiches are always front and center on those menus. But the popularity of this sandwich also means that it can be found on the menus of most Mediterranean restaurants as well. And, of course, the food truck revolution across the country has allowed a variety of ethnic foods an easy introduction to areas that might not have a diverse group of restaurants. Every Halal cart in any city carries falafel sandwiches.
Falafel is traditionally made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) which makes it a filling, high fiber food. Occasionally, fava beans are used instead and then the balls of dough are fried, or even baked for a healthier recipe. It also has the advantage of being vegetarian and, actually, even vegan. Just the garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, spices, vegetables and a good drizzle of tahini sauce, made with sesame seeds and lemon juice, are all that go into this recipe. It can be served as a platter, over a bed or rice, at home or in a restaurant or inside pita bread for an easy, on the go, lunch.
In summers there are always a lot of street fairs and festivals in the city and I know I'll find falafel trucks among the vendors selling cotton candy and funnel cake. It's great street food, convenient and absolutely delicious.
- Falafel * See recipe below
- Tahini Sauce* See recipe below or store bought
- 6 Pita bread loaves
- 2 Tomatoes, diced
- 1 Cucumber, diced
- 1 Onion sliced
- 1/4 Cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 Cup sandwich pickles (optional)
Wash and chop the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley according to the recipe and set aside.
Prepare the falafel recipe from scratch or use a box of falafel mix.
Heat a large frying pan or griddle to medium high heat. Spray with cooking oil or coat with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat the pita rounds for 2 minutes on each side. The pita may begin to brown a little.
Stuff each pita round with the falafel, diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, sliced onion and chopped parsley.
Drizzle with the tahini sauce.