Falafel with Tahini Lemon Dressing

Middle Eastern cuisine is known for its falafels—chickpea-based deep fried balls served with tahini sauce. They have become a North American favorite in restaurants, food kiosks, fast food spots and food trucks.  My version is baked, cutting the calories in half and removing most of the fat from the oil used in deep frying.  The flavor is enhanced with my light lemony and creamy tahini dressing.  Load up your pita with loads of lettuce, tomatoes and onions and you have a nutritious vegetarian meal.

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS
1. To make the falafels: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil.

2. Combine the chickpeas, green onion, cilantro, breadcrumbs, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, baking powder, cumin, egg and pepper in a food processor. Pulse on and off until well-mixed. Form into 16 balls (about 2 Tbsp. each). Flatten slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet.

3. Bake in the centre of the oven, turning once, for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

4. Meanwhile, wrap the pitas in foil and heat in a 400°F oven for 5 minutes. Place two falafels in the pocket of each pita half. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. of dressing over each. Tuck the tomato slices and lettuce inside each pita and sprinkle with onions.

INGREDIENTS
Falafel
One 19 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
¼ cup unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp minced fresh garlic
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 egg
Pinch of ground black pepper
2⁄3 cup Tahini Lemon

Dressing
1⁄3 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
4 large pitas, sliced in half
1⁄3 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
8 tomato slices and 4 chopped romaine lettuce leaves
2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
½ cup diced sweet onion
2 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp minced fresh garlic

NOTES
Serves 8

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Nutritional Information per Serving
Calories 268
Protein 8.7 g
Fat 10.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.7 g
Carbohydrates 33.1 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 433 mg
Fibre 4.2 g

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