This blog is set to go on a short hiatus soon – the little tyke and I are headed overseas for a bit. I’m hoping to post at least sporadically while we’re away, but let’s see how that goes. In the meantime, I’m leaving you with a real winner. In this recipe, kouftikes (or koftas as they’re known in India and parts of the Middle East) receive the special treatment with a pita wrap, complete with some lip-smackingly good spicy pickled cabbage and a few other condiments. The cabbage itself features two of my favorite North African ingredients – harissa and preserved lemon. I seriously can’t get enough of these things. A friend brought me ample supplies of both from Morocco last year, and I went through them in a flash and felt quite forlorn. Once you try them, you’ll realize why. They are such complex and unique flavors in their own right. Worth seeking out at a specialty food store, although many grocery stores now carry them as well.
These are more wraps than sandwiches, but they are a meal in themselves. The leek patties form the bulk of the filling, but there’s a nice interplay of crunch from the cabbage and cucumber slices. Sumac and some thick yogurt complete the picture. If these are new flavors for you, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. This sandwich has it all.
On that note, I’m off to pack. Wish me luck as I try to wrestle the kid’s booster high chair seat into a suitcase.
Kouftikes de Prasa Sandwiches (Leek Fritter and Pita Wraps with Spicy Cabbage)
Recipe from Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin
For the spicy cabbage
2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ cup white vinegar
½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 teaspoons harissa or Thai-style chile sauce (like Sriracha)
For the leek patties
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
vegetable oil for shallow frying
flaky sea salt
To finish the sandwiches
4 pita breads, lightly toasted or grilled
20 thin half-moons of cucumber
½ cup thick Greek yogurt or labneh
handful mint (or cilantro) leaves, torn
For the spicy cabbage: Thoroughly toss together all ingredients and refrigerate for at least two hours (the day before is fine too). Allow to return to room temperature before serving.
For the leek patties: Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and then into ¼” half-circles. Wash and dry thoroughly (a salad spinner works well for this).
In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and saute the leeks until tender and starting to shrivel, about 5 minutes. (You can use the same skillet to fry the leek patties in a moment). In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the leeks, salt, eggs, breadcrumbs, cumin powder, cayenne, and cinnamon.
Put about 1/8” of vegetable oil in the skillet and set the heat to medium-high. Drop the batter in with a quarter-cup measure and use the back of the cup to smooth each patty into a circle about 4” in diameter. Make 8 patties total, which will require two batches. Fry each patty until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels and season with the flaky sea salt.
To finish the sandwiches: Place two leek patties on a pita. Top with a handful of the spicy red cabbage, 5 cucumber slices, and 2 tablespoons of the Greek yogurt. Sprinkle a little sumac on the yogurt, and scatter a few mint leaves over the whole sandwich. Serve immediately.