Jerusalem Salad

Jerusalem Salad

Tonight I went over to my friend Sandy’s house for falafel, and I agreed to bring the fixin’s. Stewart and I love falafel with Jerusalem salad, lettuce, hummus, and extra tahini sauce. We skipped the hummus this time, but I thought you might like the recipe for the sauce and the salad.

First thing’s first: tahini. It’s both a paste and a sauce made from crushed sesame seeds. The paste is similar to peanut butter in consistency, but it’s not as sweet. I quite dislike the paste straight up; I find it kind of bitter. But don’t base your judgment on tahini solely on how it tastes straight from the jar. I much prefer it in hummus, or mixed into creamy sauces for a nutty, almost cheesy flavor boost.

Tahini is also a sauce, but you really only run across this variation when you’re eating middle eastern food, like falafel. It’s simply tahini paste mixed with water, lemon juice, salt and sometimes olive oil and garlic. The simple additions do wonders for the flavor, turning into a great dressing. You’ll need the sauce for the Jerusalem salad, but make extra and keep some in the fridge.

Basic Tahini Sauce
Makes enough for Jerusalem Salad, plus extra for drizzling over falafel

1/4 Cup Tahini (paste)
1/4 Cup Water
2 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix water and tahini until smooth with a whisk. Whisk in remaining ingredients and set aside (or chill).

Jerusalem Salad
Makes enough for 4-6 falafels in pitas

1 Medium Cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups total)
3 Firm Plum Tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 1 cup total)
1 Handful Parsley, roughly chopped
3 Tbs Tahini (sauce)
Fresh Black Pepper
Extra Lemon
Extra Salt

Toss cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley in a bowl. Add tahini and toss to coat – salad should not be soupy. Grind fresh pepper over the top. Season with an extra dash of salt or squeeze of lemon if desired.  Serve as a filling for falafel, or as a refreshing summer side salad.


  1. Joanna

    Hee, your timing is perfect, I just bought tahini (paste) for the first time yesterday! I used it for an asian-inspired peanut-sesame-soy sauce to serve over noodles. And, I have all the ingredients for the salad on hand, which is rare because I usually eat cucumbers as soon as I buy them and I hardly ever buy fresh parsley. Do you have a good recipe for falafel?

  2. Amey

    oooh yum! Nice recipes, once again! The only problem is, I need help with my falafel patties. I made the ones from VwaV once, and they were too moist to start with … and then horribly greasy after my frying attempt. It was a bit of a spoiler, unfortunately. Any tips?

  3. Emmie

    I bought tahini yesterday too, thinking I’d use it next time I make falafel. I often make hummus without tahini, but I prefer it with. Thanks for the recipe for tahini sauce.

  4. the village vegan

    Felafel (and middle eastern food in general) is one of my favourite foods ever! I make a variation on this salad pretty often, but it’s nice to see someone else’s version. I’ll definately be giving it a try. Thanks for sharing.

  5. daphne

    for those looking for an authentic (i.e. deep fried and delicious) recipe for falafel, i recommend the one at

  6. vincent

    Looks delicious! I’ve never made Jerusalem salad (I’m not big on cucumbers except in gaspacho), but your’s looks great! I love falafel, especially with pickled turnip.

  7. Lolo

    Joanna – That’s so funny! That sauce you made sounds delicious. What’s the recipe, if you don’t mind me asking? I actually don’t have a good recipe for falafel. My friend used a boxed mix, and the one time I tried to make it from scratch it didn’t work out very well. I need to put it on my list of things to make!

    Amey – Thanks! I need to work on falafel myself! The one time I made them they fell apart in the oil. I used canned chickpeas, but I hear soaked, dried chick peas work better. I need to try again. If I do I’ll let you know!

    Emmie – No problem, thanks!

    The Village Vegan – I’d love to see your version! Is it on your blog somewhere?

    Daphne – Thanks, I’ll check it out!

    Vincent – I love cucumbers, especially the way they smell. So refreshing! Unfortunately I don’t like anything pickled. I’ll eat all the cucumbers if you eat all the pickled things!

  8. Sandy

    My feeling on falafel is this: why spend all the time and agony it takes to make it from scratch when the $1.99 box mix is perfectly enjoyable?

    But that attitude is probably why the only recipe in my repertoire to make when Lauren and Stewart come over is falafel.

  9. Lolo

    Sandy – Because it’s fun to make things from scratch! If I saw cooking as agony, I wouldn’t have a food blog, I guess.

    You can make us falafel anytime! But it’s not the only thing you’ve made us, so don’t get all modest on me. :)

  10. Maggie

    your pictures are effing amazing. you could probably boil a shoe, sprinkle some parsley on it, take a pretty picture and i’d be salivating all over my keyboard.

    yours is by far the prettiest (handsomest?) vegan blog i’ve ever come across.

  11. bazu

    I love that salad and make it all the time in the summer! My mom also used to make a version with yogurt in the dressing. I call it “Shirazi Salad” but I know it has a million different names.

  12. Alex

    Sam, to completely ignore the political content of your post, I think Palestinians and a lot of people all over the Middle East eat this salad or something like it.

  13. Alex

    Just made this, modified to include cous cous. I tried to buy Israeli cous cous, but the store I went to didn’t have it, but it was delicious nonetheless! Thanks!

  14. Jess

    A salad very similar to this is made at our two local Moroccan restaurants. They add cumin and mint to theirs, though.
    I’m going to make your version tonight and see how it differs!
    Thanks for the idea!

  15. gail

    I’m not sure if Sam’s comment is really political. My Palestinian friends make this salad without tahini or yogurt — just lemon juice and salt — and with mint instead of parsley. It’s a very different taste, but YUMMY.

  16. Victor

    Great site I am a non- vegan and had my sister (Vegan) tell me about your site I thought I would not be much of a fan but after seeing all the creative ways you use fruits and veggies I am slowly converting. Thanks for all the great recipes…..

  17. empecee

    Along with a lot of the variations noted above, I like salads like this with either toasted or split and deep-fried pita bits included in the salad. numnum.

    All-around fantastic site, Lolo.

  18. Olga

    this is so random: I’m entereing your recipe for’s database, and 1) love the salad, 2) March 29is is my bday 3) have really fond memories of my two trips to Jerusalem :)

  19. Kathleen

    I don’t know if the chain exists in the States, but in Canada ‘The Bulk Bran’ sells the most delicious falafel mix. All you have to do is add water and fry em up in a pan.

    I also have a question regarding tahini. I am only able to find a powder version. Any ideas? Is it more akin to tahini paste (if I add water?) or more like Tahini sauce?

  20. Kathleen

    Just made this recipe and it is delicious. I have had Jerusalem salad many times in Israel and this captures the taste. Oh, be sure and add some fresh garlic to the tahini sauce. Wow, wow, wow!

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