Red Lentil Falafel Pita Sandwich Recipe

pita sandwiches on two plates
pita sandwiches on two plates - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

When you think of Middle Eastern cuisine, several popular dishes may come to mind like, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, and our featured dish — falafel. If you've had any of these tasty creations, you know that flavor is a key component in this style of eating, and this red lentil falafel pita sandwich with lemon tahini sauce is no exception. We're using parsley for a punch of freshness along with warm spices like cumin and coriander to bring out the earthiness in the lentils. The texture is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Pairing the falafel with crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and tangy pepperoncini delivers a satisfying crunch in every bite, and the zesty, creamy lemony tahini sauce pulls the combination together perfectly.

Lentils are a staple in most cultures, and even though many falafel recipes use dried chickpeas, red lentils work exceptionally well because, unlike the brown and green varieties, they don't need to be pre-cooked for the falafel batter. Because of the natural starches, they help bind the falafel patties and keep them from drying out.

Wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe and says, "Falafel has always been a favorite of mine especially because it is so versatile. You can make it ahead for meal prep and use it in different meals during the week."

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Gather The Ingredients To Make Red Lentil Falafel Pita Sandwich

recipe ingredients
recipe ingredients - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

To make this recipe, start in the produce aisle and pick up onion, garlic, parsley, lemon, lettuce, grape tomatoes, and Persian cucumbers. From the dry goods area of the store grab some red lentils, flour, tahini, and pepperoncini. There are many types of lentils but it's important that you stick with the red type as they can't be substituted in this recipe.

We are stuffing all the goodies in this recipe into fresh pita bread, so pick up some of that. Then check your pantry for coriander, cumin, salt, and oil. "I typically use avocado or olive oil when pan frying the falafel," Hahn shares.

Step1: Soak The Lentils

bowl of soaking lentils
bowl of soaking lentils - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the lentils to a bowl, cover with water to soak for 1 hour, then drain.

Step 2: Add Ingredients To A Food Processor

hand adding spices to processor
hand adding spices to processor - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the drained lentils, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt to a food processor and blend until all the lentils are broken down.

Step 3: Stir In The Flour

hand adding flour to bowl
hand adding flour to bowl - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the flour.

Step 4: Shape The Patties

patties formed on sheet pan
patties formed on sheet pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Form the mixture into 16-18 small patties.

Step 5: Add Oil To A Pan

hand adding oil to pan
hand adding oil to pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the oil to a large frying pan and bring the heat to medium.

Step 6: Pan Fry The Falafel

patties in frying pan
patties in frying pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Cook the falafel for about 8 minutes on each side until browned. You may have to work in batches.

Step 7: Make The Tahini Sauce

hand stirring tahini sauce
hand stirring tahini sauce - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

In a small bowl combine the tahini, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons water, remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.

Step 8: Assemble The Pita Sandwich

hand adding falafel to pita
hand adding falafel to pita - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Slice the pita bread in half and stuff the pocket with the falafel, lettuce, grape tomatoes, pepperoncini, cucumber, and tahini sauce.

Step 9: Serve The Falafel Sandwich

close up of pita sandwiches
close up of pita sandwiches - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Serve the red lentil falafel sandwiches.

Red Lentil Falafel Pita Sandwich Recipe

plate with pita sandwiches
plate with pita sandwiches - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

What Are Some Other Serving Ideas For The Red Lentil Falafel?

pita sandwiches and falafel
pita sandwiches and falafel - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

The nice thing about falafel is how versatile it is. In keeping with the sandwich theme, you could use naan instead of pita, and pair the filling with a creamy and fresh classic tzatziki sauce. This combination of fresh cucumber, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice is another delicious option for drizzling over the falafel. Or consider wrapping the falafel and fillings inside a whole-grain wrap. These can be made ahead and packed up for lunch at school or the office.

If you're in the mood for a salad, add some falafel for a flavorful protein boost. Try starting with a bed of mixed greens and then topping it with falafel and then with cucumber, tomatoes, and mixed greens. The falafel will add great texture and some bulk to the salad, and you could use the lemon tahini sauce as a dressing.

The falafel is a great base component of a balanced grain bowl. The falafel will provide the protein, and if you surround it with your favorite grain and fresh or cooked veggies, and top it with toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, you'll have yourself a delicious balanced meal. You can even give the falafel a Mexican flair by adding the patties to tacos and topping them with traditional taco fixings like fresh tomatoes, avocado, red onions, and salsa.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Red Lentils In The Falafel?

close up of pita sandwich
close up of pita sandwich - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Lentils are a mainstay staple for many cultures around the world and part of the reason for this is their long list of nutritional benefits. To start, they are high in protein with a whopping 17 grams per cup. This makes lentils a popular meat substitute for those who live a plant-based lifestyle or those trying to incorporate more food grown from the earth.

In addition to protein, lentils are high in B vitamins and a wide range of minerals. They are also a particularly good source of iron as they contain 37% of the daily value.

"I love to use all types of lentils in my weekly recipes because they are nutrient-dense. Also, because they are neutral in taste, they take on the other flavors used in the recipe. They are also very budget-friendly and you can buy them at most grocery stores either packaged or loose in the bulk food area," Hahn shares.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.