This recipe was inspired by my half-full jar of tahini in the fridge, begging to not be turned into hummus yet another time.  After looking through every single recipe in my Middle Eastern cookbook and not finding anything besides hummus and baba ghanouj variants, I almost gave up.  I started thumbing through Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book, uninterested in the pasta dishes and casseroles.  Blah.  Then all of a sudden, I was in the burger section!  Oooh, I thought.  I don’t have a real grill, but I have a George Foreman grill.  I kept flipping, more and more interested by the second.  And then I saw it: falafel burgers.  I scanned the ingredients list, and lo and behold: tahini!!  A tahini dipping sauce!  My mind was made up.

This is how the Chubby Grad operates.  I hate wasting things, especially food.  So, I will scour my cookbooks and I will not rest until I find a recipe that uses up my last (insert obscure ingredient here).

Anyways, this dish is different from the pasta and rice that I have been frequenting recently, and is a nice break from lunchmeat sandwiches.  It is deceptively meaty and has that great flavor combination of cumin, coriander, chili powder, and turmeric.  The toppings really make the sandwich, in my opinion.  The recipe calls for topping with tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, peperoncini, and the tahini sauce.  I would definitely add the tahini, but the rest of the toppings are up to you and what you have on hand.  I do like the kick from the peperoncini to break up the richness of the falafel.

The only semi-annoying thing about making this recipe was that I have a tiny food processor and had to split up the burger guts into two batches to process.  The burgers actually stayed together quite nicely when frying, which I was worried about based on a previous meatless-burger disaster.  Have no fear of that, only fear the turmeric stains that will be all over your kitchen if you have white countertops!  Or just don’t be as messy as me.

Falafel Burgers (Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book)

Ingredients Cost
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained $1.58
1 small red onion, chopped $0.75
2 garlic cloves, chopped $0.10
3 to 4 T. flour pantry
1 T. ground cumin pantry
1 T. ground coriander pantry
1 T. chili powder pantry
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric pantry
salt and pepper pantry
1/4 c. vegetable oil pantry
1/2 c. tahini $2.84
zest and juice of 2 lemons $0.88
6 sandwich-sized pita pockets $1.50
1 to 1/2 c. shredded romaine lettuce $0.25
1/2 cucumber, sliced $0.49
1/4 to 1/2 c. hot peperoncini peppers $0.40
2 tomatoes, sliced $0.70
  Total cost (6 servings) $9.49
  Cost per serving $1.58

Pat the beans dry with paper towels and put them in the food processor.  Add onion, garlic, parsley, flour, cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, and salt and pepper and process until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Form the bean mixture into six patties and cook for 3 minutes per side.

While the patties are cooking, scoop tahini paste into a medium mixing bowl.  Add 3 T. water and the lemon zest and juice.  Season with salt and pepper.

Zap the pitas in a microwave for 20-30 seconds.  Open the pitas and spoon tahini into each one.  Add lettuce, cucumbers, peperoncini, and tomatoes into each pita.  Then, slide in a falafel burger.  Pass extra tahini sauce at the table.