Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Kate Buckens

Inspired by the flavors of kefta, these protein-packed vegetarian bites are equally good tucked into a pita or served on their own.

4 servings
Active Time
40 minutes
Total Time
45 minutes


    • 1 (14.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 Tbsp. smooth almond butter or sunbutter
    • 1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa (preferably red)
    • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3/4 cup)


    1. Cook chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne (if using), and cinnamon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic has softened and spices are fragrant, 3–4 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor. Add egg and almond butter and pulse until a smooth paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in quinoa.
    2. Scoop out 1 heaping Tbsp. chickpea mixture and use wet hands to roll into a ping pong–size ball. Flatten slightly between your palms, then transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture (you should have about 16 patties).
    3. Pour vegetable oil into a medium cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven to a depth of 1/2". Heat over medium-high until shimmering. Working in batches if needed, fry patties, turning often with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 4–5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain and let cool slightly.
    4. Do Ahead: Chickpea mixture can be formed into patties 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic and chill, or freeze on baking sheet until solid, at least 2 hours, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag and freeze up to 3 months. Fry directly from frozen, adding about 1 minute to cook time.

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