Healthy Eating: A fry-free take on fava-bean falafel
The best-tasting veggie burger I've ever met is falafel. A product of the Middle East, falafel are deep-fried fritters made from ground chickpeas or fava beans that are tucked into pita pockets and drizzled with tahini. They are delicious, hearty, inexpensive and relatively healthy.
And if you're lucky enough to live in a city like New York, they are sold by street vendors on nearly every corner.
But if you're a home cook and want to make falafel from scratch, you face at least a couple of challenges. The classic recipe calls for dried chickpeas or fava beans, which must be soaked in water overnight, a time-consuming requirement that may persuade you to call the whole thing off.
Happily, fava beans are in season now, so my recipe calls for fresh ones, which saves you from having to mess with the dried version the night before. However, because fresh beans have more moisture than dried, getting them to hold their shape when pureed and formed into patties means adding a binder, in this case, an egg.
The second hurdle for the home cook is the frying. Apart from the inherent unhealthiness of deep-fried anything, the process itself is really a pain. I figured there had to be a healthier and easier way to cook falafel, a way that kissed off the deep-frying and yet, somehow, retained their trademark crunchiness.
Panko, those wonderful, super-crispy, Japanese bread crumbs, were the answer. After I pureed the fava beans and added the flavorings, I chilled the mixture in the refrigerator to get it firm. Then, I shaped the puree into burgers, coated them with the panko, and placed them in a hot skillet with just a little oil. They crisped up great.
Finally, I topped the falafel with a garlicky cucumber-yogurt sauce, which is just as refreshing and flavorful as tahini, but has far fewer calories. I was pleased to note that the family attacked these burgers with their usual gusto, even though they contain no animal protein. Now there's a triumph.
Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.
Fava Bean Falafel Burgers With Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
If you buy fresh fava beans, you'll need to peel and cook them. To do this, remove the beans from the pods and cook in boiling salted water until just tender. Depending on the size of the bean, this should take from 2 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool, slip the skins off the beans and proceed with the recipe. Some grocers also sell fresh or frozen peeled favas. If you can't find favas, substitute frozen lima beans.
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1⁄2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
11⁄2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
13⁄4 cups shelled peeled fresh fava beans or frozen lima beans (thawed)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons tahini (stir well before measuring)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
4-inch slice seedless cucumber, coarsely grated (about 1⁄2 cup, packed)
3⁄4 cup panko bread crumbs
In a large skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the onion and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of the garlic, the cumin, coriander and paprika, then cook for 1 minute, stirring. Transfer to a medium-size bowl.
In a food processor, pulse the fava beans just until they are coarsely chopped. Transfer 1⁄2 cup of the chopped favas to the onion mixture.
To the food processor, add the egg, tahini, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Process the mixture until finely ground, then stir it into the onion mixture. Cover the mixture and chill it for 30 minutes.
While the mixture is chilling, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, the remaining ½ teaspoon garlic, the cucumber and salt to taste. Set aside.
Shape the chilled falafel mixture into 4 patties (the mixture will be loose). Spread the panko on a sheet of parchment paper and dip the patties into the crumbs to coat on all sides.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium, heat 11⁄2 tablespoons of the remaining oil. Add the falafel patties and cook until crisp and golden on one side, for about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons of oil and turn the patties; cook for another 3 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
To serve, transfer the patties to serving plates and top with yogurt sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 620 calories (200 calories from fat), 22 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 45 milligrams cholesterol, 34 grams protein, 76 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams dietary fiber, 670 milligrams sodium
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn State struggles against Big Ten’s worst defense in loss to Illinois
- Police investigating shooting outside of Monessen bar
- Freezing rain hits Western Pennsylvania, many accidents reported
- Duquesne gets better of Robert Morris again
- Man faces multiple charges after chase in Uniontown
- Robert Morris falls to physical Georgetown
- Freezing rain sets off accidents
- Butler police seek help over shots fired into home
- Tire comes off, hits oncoming car, kills 1 on Route 28
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Architect picked to examine Fayette County jail