Well hello, BEST Falafel Sandwich and Sauce lovers. I am so happy you have shown up to see what all the noise is about. Hopefully, you are as hungry as you are curious. That’s because I have a recipe that may just become a repeat in your kitchen. It’s absolutely a favorite of mine.
I have loved falafel since my first introduction years ago, dining in a Greek restaurant. Since then, I have made many versions of falafel sandwiches and sauces at home. While they all made satisfying meals, I asked myself each time what could make this delicious vegetarian combo even better? What would make it the BEST?
Have you eaten falafel patties that you thought were too dry? I know how disappointing that is. That’s why you won’t find any dry falafel mix, flour, or canned chickpeas in this recipe. You make these moist falafel patties from scratch with ground chickpeas and a generous addition of fresh herbs and veggies.
You might be surprised to know I think pita bread can detract from a falafel sandwich. Don’t get me wrong. I love freshly baked soft and pillowy pita bread. It’s divine. I also know it’s traditional with falafel. But for me, there is a mismatch between the shape of falafel nuggets and the typical pocket intended to hold them. Can you relate? If you’re greedy like me, you’ve had far too many pitas tear open. It’s impossible to stuff them with enough falafel balls by the time you’ve added sauce and veggies.
So, for a while, I baked baby pitas and used them as buns. I made falafel patties the same size and built the sandwiches like you would a burger. I even thought it was kind of cute to call them falafel sliders. There was still one problem though. The smooth surface of the pitas made them a little too slidy. I knew I wasn’t going back to the pocket, but something had to remedy all the filling squishing out and sauce dripping over the sides!
Thus, the perfect falafel sandwich roll was born. Now don’t worry if you want the best falafel sandwich and aren’t up for baking bread the same day. Instead, you can purchase fresh ciabatta rolls from a bakery or fine market. Here’s how they will improve your sandwich. You won’t have pitas that tear or slippery little sliders. Instead, you have an ideal bread match for one large sizzling falafel. The shape of a ciabatta roll cups piled-up fillings to help hold it all in. Also, the rough interior filled with air pockets helps grab even slippery items like avocado. Most importantly, those same ample air pockets make glorious wells that nestle all the tahini sauce.
Speaking of tahini sauce, you’ll be happy to know this one is entirely vegan, like the rest of the sandwich. I’ve made it extra creamy and more like a spread than a drippy sauce. That’s because it’s too yummy not to want to layer it on thick. I mean, if you’ve made it this far, I’m going to assume you’re a little greedy yourself. So dear rapacious friend, the ultimate mega-falafel sandwich and sauce are waiting for you to rustle them up.
FAQ – BEST Falafel Sandwich & Sauce
Canned chickpeas have a very different taste than fresh soaked and ground chickpeas. They also have a wet mushy texture when ground and require flour or other additions to bind together. Freshly ground raw chickpeas make a cohesive dough all on their own.
No. The beauty of falafel made from scratch is soaked raw chickpeas perform much better than cooked ones. They give every advantage in taste and texture.
Cover chickpeas with at least 4 cups of water and soak overnight. If your climate is warm, you can soak them for 12 hours in the refrigerator.
Adding grated zucchini makes this falafel uniquely moist and lightens the texture. Be sure to salt grated zuchini and squeeze out all its moisture before mixing it into falafel.
No. Cooks sometimes add baking soda or powder to lighten the texture of falafel. Grated zucchini accomplishes this and adds a sweeter, fresher taste.
Tahini is pure sesame seed paste. Think of it as similar to nut butter, only made with sesame seeds. Traditionally, tahini sauce is made with tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Falafel sauce is typically made either with tahini or yogurt and different spices. Our family thinks the tangy, garlicky tahini sauce in this recipe the best of both worlds. Vegan cream cheese is added to soften tahini’s bitterness while adding the cool, creamy quality of yogurt.
BEST Falafel Sandwich & Sauce
Thick and Tangy Tahini Spread
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup homemade vegan cream cheese or store bought
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. garlic finely grated
- 1 cup chickpeas dry
- 2 cups zucchini grated
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup green onions chopped
- 1/3 cup parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- pinch cayenne
- 1 TB olive oil
- 5 homemade rolls or ciabatta-style sandwich rolls
- 1/2 small head romaine lettuce
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 2 small avocados
- 1/4 small red onion
- Soak chickpeas overnight in at least 4 cups of water. You can soak for 12 hours or longer in refrigerator. Rinse chickpeas and drain well.
Make Thick and Tangy Tahini Spread
- Whisk together ingredients for tahini spread. Add a little more olive oil, water or lemon juice if it's too thick, but keep it spreadable.
- Grate zucchini on large end of a box grater. Measure out 2 cups and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Stir with a fork. Let sit 10 minutes while slicing tomato, onion and avocado for sandwiches.
- This step is important. Remove all the liquid from zucchini. Scoop a handful at a time and squeeze hard to press dry. Hold squeezed zucchini aside to add at end of grinding falafel mix.
Grind Falafel Mix
- Place soaked and drained chickpeas in a food processor. Grind to a fine meal. It should be uniform but still have texture like cracked bulgur wheat or ten-grain cereal.
- Add green onions, parsely, cilantro, garlic, salt, corinader, chili powder and olive oil. Grind until uniformly flecked with green.
- Add squeezed zucchini and pulse a few strokes to mix. Leave some texture to zucchini.
- Pack falafel mixture firmly into a 1/2 cup measure. Tap cup on cutting board or parchment lined work surface to release patties. Shape patties 1/2 inch thick and fit to rolls if desired.
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron or steel frying pan over medium heat. Add patties 2 or 3 at a time. Flatten slightly and fry on both sides until browned and golden. Keep warm until all falafel patties are fried.
Assemble Sandwiches With Fixings
- Spread rolls generously on both sides with tahini sauce. Layer lettuce, tomato and onion on top. Add hot falafel patties and enjoy!