Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cupboard Cleanout: chickpea-tahini patties with spicy sesame sauce

People, I have news: we're moving.

I was abroad on the day that we moved into our current apartment, nearly three years ago, which left Merrick doing quite literally all of the heavy lifting. On a third-floor walk-up. On the hottest day of the year. Have I mentioned how much I love this man?

But I will be around to help this time, so I have a serious interest in making these moving boxes as few and as light as possible. I'll be writing a series of 'Cupboard Cleanout' posts, dedicated to using up those odds and ends we all have laying about our pantries―you know, like our mostly-eaten stash of baking chocolate, or the box of quinoa we bought in an effort to eat healthier (and never touched).

Or, in this case, a quarter of a bag of dried chickpeas and a can of tahini.

If you're not familiar with tahini, it's a paste made from ground sesame seeds, used frequently in North African, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines. And it is utterly delicious. Some separation between the paste and the oil is normal, just like natural peanut butter. But if your canned tahini sits around for an embarrassingly long time like mine has, the paste will become hard as a rock and impossible to mix back into the oil. In this case, I found that a quick spin in the food processor will do the trick.

If your pantry has a can of chickpeas, by all means use it― I think the slightly mushier texture of the canned version would work well here. Otherwise, simmer your dried chickpeas for an hour or so on the stove, or cook them in the slow cooker like I do (three hours on high heat, in water about an inch higher than the level of the chickpeas usually does the trick). If your chickpeas are really old, here's fair warning: they may never get soft. You'd be best starting over with a fresh bag.

And actually, a fresh bag might not be a bad idea, since you might develop a craving for more of these little falafel-esque patties. You can serve these in a lettuce wrap, using a large-leafed lettuce like Romaine, Red lettuce, or Boston lettuce, with plenty of sauce, cucumbers and tomatoes (I had no tomatoes and couldn't bring myself to buy any, since the spirit of this post is using up what I already have, right?). Alternatively, place the patties in pita halves with lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and drizzle sauce over. If you have extra sauce, which isn't likely, I think it would be delicious over fried potatoes, or even as a hearty salad dressing.

Chickpea-Tahini Patties with Spicy Sesame Sauce
Adapted from Bon App├ętit

For the patties:
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or about 2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 tablespoons minced onion (substitute red onion or scallions)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (mint would also work well)
1 slice country bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg white
2 tablespoons tahini
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of salt
4 to 5 tablespoons hot water, or more as needed
Hot sauce, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)
Lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pita, as desired

1. Using a fork, coarsely mash 3/4 cup garbanzo beans in medium bowl. Mix in onion, dill, bread pieces, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

2. Puree remaining garbanzo beans, egg white, tahini and garlic in processor until almost smooth. Stir into mashed garbanzo bean mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Shape mixture into patties about the size of a silver dollar and half an inch thick.

4. Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat. Place patties in the skillet and cook until golden brown, about three minutes per side. To prevent breakage, do not disturb the patties while they cook, and flip only once.

5. Meanwhile, mix ingredients for the sauce together in a small bowl. Use as much water as needed to achieve your preferred consistency.


  1. Looks awesome! I use tahini all the time as salad dressing, which I definitely recommend.

  2. Yum! Do you add anything to it, or just drizzle it plain on your salad?

  3. tahini +miso is a winner, tahini+balsamic is also good. you can get fancy with adding lemon and spices, but i usually end up just doing tahini and vinegar

  4. Good luck moving! This looks like a great way to clean out your cupboard. Yum!