It feels strange to be writing a post about sandwiches, considering that I’m not what you’d call a “sandwich enthusiast”. Sandwiches are fine and all, but for me they usually function as a perfunctory filler – the thing I pick up at an airport before a flight, or at the work cafeteria when I’ve forgotten my lunch and the hot meal du jour looks dodgy. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to get exited about ham on rye or a floppy veggie wrap. Sandwiches have just never been my jam.
That said, I’m a big advocate of the falafel sandwich. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a falafel sandwich I didn’t like, even the cheap ones I used to inhale during my undergrad days (usually between classes or after late-night drinking excursions), that we’d buy from the dingy Lebanese take-out places around the downtown campus. The best ones had a crunchy exterior that gave way to a soft, crumbling chickpea interior. The ones slathered in garlicky tahini sauce, fresh parsley, bright pink pickled turnip, and wrapped in soft flatbread. Compared to what else was on offer around school – 99¢ pizza, McDonald’s, dubious-looking panini at the Coffee Depot – these falafel sandwiches were often a student’s best option for a cheap, quick, tasty bite.
Since then, and after a few attempts of my own, I’ve come to realize that while falafels are great take-out food, they can be tricky to make well at home. I suspect that it’s because the best ones are made with a deep-fryer (surprise, surprise…) and since I don’t actually have a deep fryer – which, for my overall health, not to mention exposed extremities, is probably a good thing – it means that I don’t ever really find myself trying to make falafel from scratch. Instead, I usually end up picking up one from that well-loved vegan spot in my neighbourhood, because it’s good and close-by and they can have that thing ordered, dressed and wrapped up in five minutes flat. But since I’m not made of money and can’t take on the role of La Panthère verte’s most valuable patron, I’ve been looking for alternatives I can make at home – where my pocketbook can stay clear from any cash registers and 8$ organic sandwiches.
In scouring the Internet for ways to use up the zucchini that were starting to wither away in the crisper drawer, I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart, which reminded me a little of falafel sandwiches (because of the chickpeas and the pita), but looked more home-kitchen friendly. (in truth, my eagerness to try the recipe may be chalked up to the fact that I mistakenly read it as “Zucchini Party Sandwiches” and my curiosity got the best of me. They weren’t in fact “party” sandwiches, but patty sandwiches – though, since making them, I would have no qualms calling them “party” sandwiches, given how colourful and flavourful they are.) (like a party in your mouth, har har…).
They’re something of a cross between a zucchini latke and a falafel – more toothsome than the former, less complicated than the latter. I tweaked Martha’s recipe slightly, using canola oil to fry them in (because, again – unlike Martha – I’m not made of money) and incorporating some curry powder, cayenne and a small amount of olive oil to the mixture for some added oumf. I highly recommend that you do the same, as the flavours mingle really well together; like people do, when the party goes from good to dancing-on-the-tables (!) great.
Have a good week, everybody x
Curried Zucchini-Chickpea Pa(r)tty Sandwiches – adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 8 (a half-pita each)
- 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs (I used panko)
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 small red onion, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp olive oil – for flavour
- ¼ cup canola oil (or sunflower oil) – for frying
- 4 whole-wheat pitas, halved
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- A handful of lettuce leaves, and/or arugula and/or radicchio
1) Mash chickpeas in a bowl until more or less smooth (with a few nubs left in-tact). Stir in breadcrumbs, grated zucchini, onion, egg, curry, cayenne, salt and pepper. Form into eight 4-by-1/2-inch patties and set aside.
2) Put a pan on medium-high heat and warm the canola oil until hot, but not smoking. Fry the patties until golden and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
3) Meanwhile, warm the halved pitas in the toaster on in a dry pan, just to warm through.
4) Stuff the pita halves with the cooked patties, some cucumber, lettuce, mint and yogurt.