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Beans are one of humanity's earliest cultivated crops, and, in turn, have been critical to the survival of ancient civilizations. Today, many cultures incorporate beans into their trademark dishes. Falafel, a dish as popular in the Middle East as hamburgers are in the United States. The following recipe of the breaded garbanzo bean croquettes are complemented by a light and tangy Tomato-Cucumber Relish. Serve with pita bread.

Prep Time: 30 to 35 minutes

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup dry plain bread crumbs, divided
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1 egg yolk
olive oil cooking spray
Tomato-Cucumber Relish (recipe follows)
Falafels1. Process garbanzo beans, onion, parsley, garlic, cumin and oregano in a food processor until smooth; season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup bread crumbs, raisins and egg yolk.

2. Form bean mixture into 16 patties, using about 1 1/2 tablespoons for each. Coat patties with remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs.

3. Spray large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat until hot. Cook falafel over medium heat until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Spray tops of falafel with cooking spray and turn; cook until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Arrange 4 falafel on each plate; serve with Tomato-Cucumber Relish.

Tomato-Cucumber Relish
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Combine tomato, cucumber, yogurt and mint leaves in small bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper.
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