Monday, April 27, 2015

Mediterranean Chickpea Patties with Tzatziki Sauce

Mediterranean Chickpea Patties with Tzatziki Sauce

I've made the chickpea patties before, but wanted to make a few adjustments to the recipe. Instead of mashing the chickpeas with a pastry blender, I used a food processor for both this step and mixing the ingredients into the dough. I also changed the seasoning mix just slightly, adding cumin and aleppo pepper, my new favorite pepper that I seem to keep reaching for instead of the trusty red chili pepper flakes.

Using a food processor turned out to be an inspired idea. Pulse the chickpeas first a few times to break them up, then add the remaining ingredients before pulsing until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a plate or cutting board--you just need a work surface. If there are any dry spots that didn't get mixed well in the food processor, use your hands to work them into the dough. Then shape the dough into patties. I formed balls that were slightly larger than golf balls, then flattened them into discs about 2-3 inches across and 3/4-inch thick. This recipe should make enough dough for about 10 patties.

When it comes to garnishing the patties, you have lots of options. I like to serve them with pitas--either whole-wheat or white--and tzatziki sauce. We also enjoy having a little hummus with them, which is, admittedly, chickpea overkill, but it's tasty. If you wanted to add some vegetables to the mix, sliced cucumber or, when in season, tomato would be good. Maybe some red onions, quick-pickled if you have the time.

Let's talk about tzatziki sauce for a moment. Many recipes call for straining the yogurt by placing it on a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. This process, which is both time-consuming and a bit messy, results in thicker yogurt by straining out the whey. The thing is, this step really isn't necessary. Just start the recipe with Greek yogurt instead of the traditional and it doesn't need to be strained. If your recipe says to strain yogurt, it's probably because it's an older recipe written before the recent Greek yogurt trend has made it so readily available. Yes, there was a time Greek yogurt was hard to find, hence the straining.

Mediterranean Chickpea Patties

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup herbed bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 scallions, white and light green part only, chopped
1/2 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
Whole wheat or white pita bread
Tzatziki sauce (see recipe below)
Hummus (optional, see recipe)
Slices of cucumber or tomato (optional)
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Greek olives (optional)

1. Add chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely ground. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, scallions, aleppo pepper, cumin, salt and garlic and pulse until the mixture is combined. Transfer to a plate or bowl and work with your hands to ensure the ingredients are evenly mixed. Form into 8 to 10 patties (aim for something slightly larger than a golf ball and then flatten slightly into discs about 3/4-inch thick).

2. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Add half the patties and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the patties over, flatted slightly and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan, and repeat with the other patties.

3. Serve patties with pita bread, tzatziki sauce and, as desired, hummus, cucumber slices, tomato slices, feta cheese and olives.

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce

1/2 English cucumber, finely diced
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (may use regular, low-fat or nonfat)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1. Place the diced cucumber in a colander set above a shallow bowl. Sprinkle evenly with the salt, place a heavy bowl on top of the cucumbers to weight them down and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Discard the liquid, wrap the cucumbers with a paper towel and gently squeeze to remove additional moisture.

2. Transfer cucumbers to a food processor. Add yogurt, garlic powder, lemon juice and dill. Blend until combined. Chill covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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