Michael Natkin's Kouftikes de Prasa Sandwiches

Michael Natkin's Kouftikes de Prasa Sandwiches

[Photograph: Michael Natkin]

Falafel might be a hall of fame vegetarian sandwich, but after making up a batch of these Kouftikes de Prasa Sandwiches from Michael Natkin's Herbivoracious, we're tempted to declare a new winner.

Awesomely crisp patties full of sweetly sweated leeks are wrapped in warm pita and topped with a quick pickled cabbage, spicy and sour with preserved lemon and harissa. The sandwich is finished with creamy labne, tart sumac, and bright leaves of fresh mint and slices of cucumber. This sandwich has it all going on—salty, sour, spicy, and totally satisfying.

What Worked: We're loving the contrast of crisp oniony leek patties with the sharp, pickled cabbage. Topped off with a dollop of creamy labne and a few mint leaves, this sandwich is a winner.

What Didn't: All's clear.

Suggested Tweaks: If you're looking for a bit more heat, feel free to garnish the sandwiches with a swipe of harissa.

Reprinted with permission from Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin. Copyright © 2012. Published by Harvard Common Press. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:makes 4 sandwiches
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours 30 minutes


  • For the Spicy Cabbage:
  • 2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup white vinegar
  • Half a preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons harissa or Thai-style chile sauce (such as sriracha)
  • For the Leek Patties:
  • 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1⁄2 cup bread crumbs (preferably homemade)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or cayenne
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • To finish the sandwiches:
  • 4 pita breads, lightly toasted or grilled
  • 20 thin half-moons of cucumber
  • 1⁄2 cup thick Greek yogurt or labneh
  • Ground sumac
  • A handful fresh mint or cilantro leaves, torn


  1. 1.

    For the Spicy Cabbage: Thoroughly toss together the cabbage, salt, vinegar, preserved lemon, and harissa. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. Allow to return to room temperature before serving.

  2. 2.

    For the Leek Patties: For the leek patties: Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and then into 1⁄4-inch-wide half-moons. Wash in 3 changes of water and dry thoroughly (a salad spinner works well for this).

  3. 3.

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté until tender and starting to shrivel, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl. (You can use the same skillet to fry the leek patties in a moment.)

  4. 4.

    Thoroughly mix the leeks, salt, eggs, bread crumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and cinnamon.

  5. 5.

    Heat about 1⁄8 inch vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, drop in 1⁄4 cup leek batter with a measuring cup and use the back of the cup to smooth the patty into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining batter, making 8 patties total (fry them in two batches if necessary, adding a bit more oil as needed). Fry each patty until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels and season with flaky sea salt.

  6. 6.

    To finish the sandwiches: Place 2 leek patties on a pita. Top with a handful of the spicy cabbage, 5 cucumber slices, and 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Sprinkle a little sumac on the yogurt and scatter a few mint leaves over the whole sandwich. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Fold the pita over to eat as a sandwich. Serve immediately.