Sesame Crusted Cornbread Falafel with Red Pepper Tahini

Robert Mermelstein


Roasted Red Pepper Tahini Sauce:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

¼ c. very cold water

1 roasted red pepper, drained if from a jar

1 tsp. kosher salt ¼ tsp. sugar

1 ½ tsp. paprika

½ c. well-stirred tahini


Cornbread Patties:

1 (16-oz.) can Bush’s Garbanzos (chickpeas), drained

1 c. roughly chopped onion

¼ c. chopped Italian parsley

4 large cloves garlic

1 Tbs. cumin

1 Tbs. ground coriander

¼ tsp. cayenne

1 (6-oz.) pkg. Martha White Cotton Country Cornbread mix

Oil, for frying

½ c. sesame seeds


Pita Wedges:

1 pita, cut into 8 wedges

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. zaatar


Salad greens:

2 tsp. harissa, or more to taste


Make the tahini sauce:

Combine the garlic, lemon juice, and water in a tall, narrow cup. Using an immersion blender, puree until the garlic is completely broken down and the mixture is frothy. Add the roasted red pepper, salt, sugar, and paprika and puree until smooth. With the blender running, gradually add the tahini and blend until the sauce is thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning with salt and lemon juice to taste. Cover and reserve.


Make the patties:

Reserve about ¼ of the chickpeas and place the remaining chickpeas in a food processor work bowl. Add the onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Process until the mixture is combined but not pureed. Add the cornbread mix and pulse until it is nearly, but not entirely, combined. Turn the mixture into a bowl. Roughly chop the reserved chickpeas and stir into the cornbread mixture just until the remaining cornbread mix is incorporated.

Pour oil into a 12-inch Lodge cast iron pan to come halfway up the side and heat the oil to 350º. Scoop out ¼ c. of the mixture and form into patties about 2-inches across. Roll each patty in sesame seeds, patting lightly to adhere. Fry the patties, turning once, until very well browned, about 5 minutes total. Remove from oil and let drain on a rack.


Make the pita wedges:

Preheat oven to 350º. Place pita wedges on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with za'atar. Bake 5 – 7 minutes, until the pita is warm.


To serve: Line a place with salad greens, top with falafel patties, and drizzle with tahini sauce. Place a small dot of harissa on each patty. Serve hot, accompanied by pita wedges.

Serves 4