The Citizen Caine- A Double Down Falafel Sandwich

Oh, she’s a beauty!

December 07, 2020.  First of all, I sincerely thank anyone and everyone who has ever followed, liked or commented on this blog and its related Instagram and Twitter posts.  I will admit, I’m a bit of a social media novice, but I have been excited by the possibility of reaching my goal of 100 Instagram followers by the end of the year.  On the other hand,  I’ve also been a bit down on the Twitter account, to the point of giving it up, since I could never seem to get over 3 real followers- yes, I admit I followed myself from another account, but I’ve deleted that now and I’m a better man for it.  That was until one, fine internet citizen (See how I worked part of the recipe title in here?) took it upon himself to call out his family to double my Twitter following, to 6, in just one day!  So, I am especially grateful for that and to show my appreciation I have developed this recipe as a thank you to his family. It’s also a nod to one of his family member’s public proclamations of his love for hummus and hopes for the likes of a celebrity chef and large hummus corporation to make an innovative falafel sandwich that uses falafel as its bun.  At the same time, I’m a bit worried that I’m setting the bar too high to dedicate a sandwich for 6 Twitter followers- like, if I ever get to 1000 followers, am I going to have to buy someone a car?!  

I would also point out that this is a genius idea and certainly a lot healthier than another innovation in sandwich buns- the KFC Double Down (Look how excited those dads are in the commercial!), which used two pieces of fried chicken as buns for a saucy cheese and bacon sandwich.  This sandwich has fortunately been discontinued, with the intervention of the American Heart Association, I would imagine.  And, yes, I did have a few or more of those Double Downs back in the day- what can I say, it’s one of those Old School Dad Things- just look at the commercial!  One last thing- while Mom’s been a long time fan of the Falafel Pita, I always thought it ate more than a bit dry, so taking out the pita, not only alleviates the dryness and carbs, it also elevates and highlights the falafel in every bite. 

Inactive Prep Time: 8 to 24 hours to soak the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans- another fun food word!), but should we even care if it’s inactive- no!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time:  20 minutes

Servings: 4

Get Your Stuff Out.

Falafel “Bun”– I suppose you could use a boxed falafel mix, but should you?

  • 8 ounces dried chickpeas, soaked in twice as much water, with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in, then drained and rinsed off
  • 3-4 scallions or 1/2 cup white, yellow or red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup- 1 cup  fresh green herbs, like parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, etc., roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2-3 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper/red pepper flakes
  • 2-4 tablespoons all purpose or chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • Canola or other neutral oil for pan frying
A food processor is your friend in this recipe.

Sandwich Fixin’s

  • 1 recipe of Lemon Basil White Bean Hummus, recipe follows, or a favorite store bought hummus, if you must
  • 1 head of butter or bibb lettuce, torn into leafs and washed in a Salad Spinner
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into ribbons with a veggie peeler
  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Rainbow Pickles, recipe follows, or favorite store bought pickles, if you must
  • Pickled Veggie “Rosebud”, technique follows, optional, but cool in so many ways
  • Tahini Dipping Sauce, recipe follows, optional
That’s a lot of veg!

Cook and Play.  

Dad Joke and Spoiler Alert.  For your cooking enjoyment and to tantalize your ear buds, I am recommending a vintage 1988 “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’”  and a 1989 Smooth Operator by Big Daddy Kane– they’re classics, just like “Citizen Kane”, which will explain the pickled rosebud Dad Joke in the recipe.  You might also want to serve up the 1989 “Just a Friend” by Big Daddy Kane’s friend, Biz Markie– no pun here, just a song I thought was funny when I was younger and “sang” to my friends whenever they spent time with a woman they said was “just a friend”.

  1. If you plan on making this a great sandwich, instead of a good sandwich, you should make the hummus, pickles and sauce recipes that follow and make those before you make the falafel buns.  All can be made ahead and last several days in the refrigerator. Silver lining- you don’t even need to clean out the food processor after you make the hummus to make the falafel mix- how nice!
  2. Falafel Buns. Dump soaked chickpeas, scallions, fresh herbs and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and process until you have a coarse grind, wiping the sides down if needed (it will be needed).
  3. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and process some more, scraping down as needed, until you have a texture that resembles “wet sand”.  You don’t want to process this so much that it turns to mush, but it’s not a bad idea to transfer 2/3 of your grind to a bowl and process the remainder a bit more to help with the binding.  Give it a taste and adjust the flavor- adding more cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper. You want some bold and confident flavor here, so don’t be shy- especially with the salt! Transfer the remaining 1/3 of the mix to the bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight, to help it all set up for successful frying or baking.
  4. Place a generous 1/4 cup of falafel mix into a round cookie or biscuit cutter on a cutting board and press into “buns”.  I used a 3.5” cooking cutter and was able to just get 8 buns.  Use a skinny spatula, like a fish spatula, to transfer buns to a baking sheet as you form them.
  5. Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat and add enough oil to come halfway up the buns.  Once the oil gets to 350 degrees, use the skinny spatula to carefully lower the buns into the hot oil.  Don’t overcrowd the pan and fry in batches at a consistent 350 degrees or you and your buns won’t be happy.  Fry on each side, adjust the heat to keep a steady simmer of oil, until golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes a side.
  6. You could also bake or air fry your buns at 400-450 degrees until crispy, but they may call for a little more hummus or sauce to offset a drier consistency.
  7. Make That Delicious Sandwich.  Pile on the toppings, like Gramps would have- smear some hummus on each bun, then stack up lettuce, cucumbers, tomato, avocado and pickles on top of one bun and cover with the other.  If you want to impress with a cool look and a witty reference to Citizen Kane, lay some rainbow pickles on top of a cucumber slice, roll it up to look like a rosebud and stick a toothpick through it to top the sandwich. Serve Tahini Sauce on the side, if you like.

Lemon Basil White Bean Hummus.  Into the bowl of a food processor, dump a 15 ounce can of rinsed and drained white beans, like Cannellini, a cup of packed basil leaves, the zest of a lemon and some or all of the juice from that lemon and a tablespoon or two of nice extra virgin olive oil.  Blitz that all up, adding drops of water, until you get a nice, creamy consistency, stirring in kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Use a rubber spatula to get that into a bowl, and no need to clean out the processor if you’re going to make the falafel soon!

Rainbow Pickles.  Use a vegetable peeler to extract nice slices of some rainbow carrots (orange carrots are fine too, but if you can taste the rainbow, why wouldn’t you?) until you have a cup or two.  Place the carrots into a small bowl, massage some kosher salt into the carrots and mix in a 1/3 cup or so of rice or other vinegar.  Stir it up a bit from time to time or pour it all into a sandwich bag that you’ll be sure to seal up securely.  Warning: red carrots, turn lighter carrots pink, like a Wash Day Disaster, so if that will bum you out, omit or pickle them separately. 

Yes, I added an undisclosed radish in the mix!

Tahini Sauce.  In a medium sized bowl, mix 1/3 cup of tahini paste, juice of 1/2 or all of a lemon (might as well throw the zest in there too!) and enough water to get the consistency of a dressing/dipping sauce.

The Lecture.

Using Dried Chickpeas- Not as Hard as You Think.  Is soaking dried chickpeas overnight really any harder than buying and opening a can of cooked chickpeas?  No! Also, many food experts really don’t like canned chickpeas for falafel, as they say canned chickpeas do not consistently hold together when fried up- so why take the chance?  

Using a Food Processor- Not as Bad as You Think.  Is using a food processor any more of a pain in the butt than cutting up onions and herbs and mashing it all together with chickpeas in a bowl. No! Actually, is so much easier and really essential to get the grind needed on the chickpeas, since we’re not using canned- this, coming from a Dad who is not a fan of lugging out a food processor for a recipe if it can be avoided. Saves on fine dicing onions and herbs, and you can make the white bean hummus in it too!

Cooking Tips and Ideas- To Make You Think.  If you need to brush up on your frying game, check out some wisdom at my fried green tomatoes post.  If you’re not sure about toasting spices– very simple- add them to a dry pan and toast over medium low heat until you get some good fragrance coming off them- keep an eye out and shake them up a bit so you don’t burn them bitter! You can grind them once they cool in a coffee grinder dedicated to spices or with a mortar and pestle. As for some other sandwich ideas, why not an Egg McFalafel, with an egg and some cheese between the buns, or, as at least one of you has been thinking, how about a Falafel Waffle Sandwich– good news, it works, just look at the pic below!  All, you need is a waffle maker and the falafel mix in this recipe will work great as a “batter”.  Having tried both, I prefer the thinner and crispier texture of the bun, but if you go waffle- I would cut the waffle in half and stuff the fixin’s in between.

One Falafel Waffle was not cut in half and is too thick, the other Falafel Waffle was cut in half and is just right, Goldilocks!

A Nice Story About Rainbow Carrots- What Do You Think?  There are many reasons I will always love Rainbow Carrots and buy them instead of Monochromatic Carrots every time.  One of the most important reasons has to do with a game we would play when you two were just getting your taste buds and I was trying to work in vegetables whenever I could.  One of my most successful techniques was buying vegetables that came in a variety of colors- carrots, beets, cauliflower, radishes, and so on- and cutting up pieces of each color to see if you could guess what color each vegetable was, while I covered you eyes. So much fun and so many veggies!

Keyword: chickpeas, sandwich, fun food, vegan, 

© 2020 All rights reserved.  Dad’s Dinner Diary

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