April 5, 2011

Falafel Pitas with Goat Cheese Sauce

I had a can of garbanzo beans in the pantry and a taste for falafel. I usually buy pre-made falafel from Costco, but I couldn't find them the last time I looked. I was really disappointed, since the brand that they carried (I can't remember what it was exactly) was pretty tasty and so convenient. Ugh. So, I decided to try my hand at falafel making. Usually, when I have a hankerin' for something, but not a recipe I automatically turn to Cooking Light for inspiration. It is my favorite resource for healthy recipes, and it rarely disappoints. Once again, it came through for me with this recipe. Hooray Cooking Light!!!

Falafel Pitas with Goat Cheese Sauce
From: Graham Kerr, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2005

1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (6-inch) whole wheat pita, torn into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 large egg whites
Cooking spray

2 cups chopped seeded plum tomato
1 cup chopped seeded English cucumber
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 serrano chile, minced

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft (log-style) goat cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 small garlic clove, minced
Remaining ingredient:
4 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, halved

To prepare falafel, sort and wash chickpeas, and place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Combine chickpeas and next 11 ingredients (through 2 chopped garlic cloves) in a food processor; pulse 8 to 10 times or until finely chopped. Spoon mixture into a bowl. Add egg whites to chickpea mixture, and stir well. Let stand 15 minutes. Divide mixture into 16 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

To prepare relish, combine tomato and next 5 ingredients (through chile).

To prepare sauce, combine yogurt, goat cheese, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 minced garlic clove, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Place 2 falafel patties in each pita half; spoon about 1/3 cup relish and 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce into each pita half. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information:
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 stuffed pita halves)
Calories:450 (17% from fat)
Fat:8.7g (sat 3.3g,mono 1.8g,poly 2.1g)

The Result:
I substituted 1 cup of canned beans, drained/rinsed/dried with a towel. They worked out great, and saved me some prep time. These falafel were awesome! I was pretty skeptical at first, since the batter was really wet after I added the egg whites. However, despite the wet consistency, the falafel baked up light and fluffy...perfectly cooked. My husband proclaimed these falafel to be the best he's ever tasted. I agree, they were soooo good. Bonus: I am happy to have some of the leftover relish to incorporate into my lunchtime salad today.

My only real critique was that this recipe took awhile to put together. We ate our dinner a little later than usual; which resulted in some cranky customers around my table (darn kids expecting to be fed on time). If you allow plenty of time, this recipe was well worth the effort.

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