Steer Clear Of Canned Chickpeas When Making A Falafel Sandwich

While it may be fashionable in certain circles to sneer at canned goods, the truth is, for many recipes, canned vegetables are the better choice. Canned chickpeas, for example, are so much more convenient than the dried kind, plus you get the lagniappe of aquafaba that can be swapped out for egg whites in anything from meringues to cocktails. There is one instance, however, where canned chickpeas just won't cut it, and that's when you're making falafel.

MegaMenu recipe developer Alexandra Shytsman acknowledges that some falafel recipes do call for canned chickpeas, which she admits will allow for a shorter prep time. Still, she calls for dried chickpeas in her falafel sandwich recipe and says that using the canned kind is "not the authentic technique." There is a far more compelling reason, however: She cautions that this ingredient "results in mushy falafel" that, in turn, will make for a soggy sandwich. Hard pass on that, so dried chickpeas it is.

How to make your own falafel

The first step in making falafel is to soak the dried chickpeas. "Because these chickpeas are not pre-cooked," Alexandra Shytsman explains, "soaking is necessary to soften them enough to be ground up." The soaking process is pretty simple, since all you need to do is put the chickpeas in a bowl, cover them with water, and let them sit on the kitchen counter (no need to refrigerate them). The thing is, it takes quite a bit of time — according to Shytsman, anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.

Once the chickpeas have been softened up with that all-day-overnight soak, you'll puree them along with some flavoring agents such as onion, garlic, and herbs. (Shytsman likes to use parsley or cilantro.) Mix the resulting mass with chickpea flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and any seasonings you wish to use (Shytsman goes with coriander and cumin), then form them into patties and either bake them or pan-fry them until they're crunchy and golden on the outside and warm inside. When the falafel patties are done, stuff them in pita pockets with tomatoes, onions, and lettuce then drizzle them with tahini that's been thinned out with lemon juice. Because your dried chickpea falafel is nice and firm, it should stand up to these sauces and toppings without falling apart.