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Mediterranean ‘Faux’-Lafel with Cucumber Dill Sauce

Kristopher LopezDeveloped by Kristopher Lopez,
Food and Finance High School,
New York City, NY

First Place, 2015 AICR/C-CAP Healthy Appetizer Contest Winner
Kristopher received a $5,000 scholarship.


A lighter, creative version of tradition Middle Eastern falalels with a delicious Mediterranean twist.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 mini cucumbers, small diced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill, few fronds for garnish
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped, whole leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. chopped red bell pepper, small diced, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, small dice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup whole-wheat panko
  • 2 eggs
  • coconut or canola oil spray


Mediterranean ‘Faux’-Lafel with Cucumber Dill SaucePreheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

In medium mixing bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, dill, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.

In large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, spinach, feta, 1/2 cup red pepper, parsley, onion, lemon juice and zest and panko. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make a small well in middle of mixture and crack one egg. Wet you hand and mix first egg into quinoa mixture. Repeat with second egg. The mixture should be slightly tacky and able to be formed into a ball. Take a scant 2 tablespoons (~1-ounce scoop) of mixture and with your hands shape into a ball. (Note: Do not roll like meatballs – gently pack using your palm as a “cup”). Place on oiled sheet pan. When all balls have been formed spray the tops with oil – coconut or canola.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Outside should be crispy with a little give when you touch it. Remove from oven and let stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Remove sauce from refrigerator and mix with a spoon.

Place 3 faux-lafel on one serving plate and top with small dollop of sauce. In between each faux-lafel place a spinach leaf and finish with a few small fronds of dill and a few pieces of red pepper for garnish.

Makes 8 servings. Yields 24 Faux-Lafel balls.

Per serving: 169 calories, 4 g total fat, (2 g saturated fat), 23 g carbohydrate,
10 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 165 mg sodium.

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