I remember my first falafel in Saudi Arabia, thinking how it was like a hush puppy, only different. Perhaps a silly response, but it’s true. The texture and flavor are different, but the general idea is the same. Instead of fried balls of soaked cornmeal, it’s fried balls of soaked fava bean or chickpea meal. They can be served in pita or as a side dish with vegetables or sauces. Falafels are so flavorful and they became one of my favorite foods, one that I don’t enjoy often enough anymore.
I found this Southwestern take on falafels from Cooking Light which uses pinto beans, though I substitute black beans, which I prefer. The texture is looser than a falafel because it’s more than just the beans; it’s cheese, crushed tortilla chips, green onions, and cilantro held together with egg white. It’s kind of a cross between a vegetarian burger and a falafel. I make some guacamole and Mexican slaw and stuff it all in pita for a meal, which we think is pretty tasty.
Don’t be tempted to add more oil to the pan, the patties need only a very thin coating to cook properly. If you add too much oil, the patties will soak it up and fall apart. (I bet you are wondering how I know that.) The recipe doubles easily for more servings, and any leftover patties warm up well for breakfast with a little salsa and avocado on top.
SOUTHWESTERN FALAFEL SANDWICH WITH GUACAMOLE
Adapted from Cooking Light.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet
1 (15-ounce/425 g) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 g) shredded Mexican blend or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (22 g) finely crushed baked tortilla chips
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large egg white
1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1. In the medium bowl, mash the beans with a fork. Stir in the cheese, tortilla chips, green onions, cilantro, cumin, and egg white. Make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Make 4 patties about 1/2-inch thick, pressing firmly to make sure the ingredients stick together.
2. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties until browned and heated through, about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel.
3. Serve in whole wheat pita halves with guacamole and Mexican slaw.
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