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Israeli Tomato + Cucumber Salad with Lentil Falafel

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Low Carb/Paleo
  • Vegetarian
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

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Why we love it:

This salad is simple to make and served in many regions throughout the Middle East. It shines when tomatoes and cucumbers are in peak season at the end of the summer. We’ve paired with a twist on baked falafel patties and a craveable tahini sauce. Definitely double up and make the leftovers for your packed lunch!


  • 1 15-ounce can Green Lentils
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour (all purpose)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 12 bunch Green Onion
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 312 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
  • 12 pound Heirloom Tomato (or variety of choice)
  • 1 English Cucumber
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 cup Fresh Parsley (leaves and stems, or cilantro)
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Lemon (zest and juice, divided)
  • 12 cup Tahini
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • 14 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • Pita (for serving)

Cooking Instructions


    Open and drain the lentils. Or cook from scratch according to the package instructions and drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

    Place in a food processor and add flour, cumin, green onion, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 egg and 1 clove garlic. Blend until it sticks together but isn’t too wet; and mostly smooth with a few coarse pieces. Pat your hands in a little oil or water and shape into falafel patties, about ¼ cup in size. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a baking sheet and use that to coat the patties. Bake in the lowest part of the oven for about 15 - 18 minutes or until golden brown, flip about halfway through (see culinary skills for pan searing option).


    Get ready to chop.

    Dice the tomatoes into small ¼” cubes, adding them and their juices to a bowl as you go. Dice the cucumber to the same size cubes. Dice the red onion into the same size as well - if you only want to use ½ of the onion, save the other ½ for a different use.

    Mince the other clove of garlic finely and add in ½ of it - reserve the rest for the tahini sauce. Zest and juice ½ of the lemon into the bowl. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir gently but thoroughly. Set aside to rest for about 10 minutes.


    Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the ½ cup tahini, 1 teaspoon honey, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, and 1 Tablespoon water until it’s smooth. Add the remaining minced garlic and a pinch of salt to taste.

  • 5. SERVING

    Plate the falafel patties and a generous scoop of tomato salad. Serve the tahini sauce over top. If desired, serve with a side flatbread.

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Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Deconstruct the salad as needed - omit onion, serve more cucumber and less tomato
  • Serve falafel plain with tahini sauce as a dip on the side. You can also stir some tahini sauce into yogurt for a creamier and thicker dip
  • Serve with rice or bread

For Toddlers

  • Break up the falafel patties into small pieces
  • Omit the honey from the tahini sauce before offering to them or just mix tahini and yogurt for the sauce
  • Serve with rice and yogurt

For Choosy Eaters

  • Slice cucumbers larger and serve alone - tomatoes too if they like them
  • Stir a bit of tahini sauce into yogurt for their dip
  • Add bread or rice or simple pasta on the side

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. The tahini sauce can be made a week ahead
  2. Make the falafel filling ahead – or make the patties fully and reheat to serve. Heat in a sauté pan or in the oven
  3. The falafel, sauce and salad also taste great in a pita together with some shredded lettuce

Culinary Skills

Use a can of garbanzo beans instead. I also love adding some leftover cooked quinoa in there and fewer lentils. If you prefer to cook lentils from scratch just follow the package instructions; it’s easy to do but can take 30 minutes or so. 

To pan sear the patties, use a large skillet. Form the patties and if you have time, chill them for 1 hour and up to overnight – this will help them stick together. Heat 1-2 tablespoons or butter or oil in the pan and add the patties. Sear for 4-6 minutes per side or until they’re golden brown and cooked through.

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