Turkish Shepherd Salad: Çoban Salatas

Turkish Shepherd Salad, also known as Çoban Salatas, is a traditional Turkish salad that is often served as a side dish. The flavors of this summer salad are brought to life by combining sumac, lemon juice, and olive oil. These ingredients create a tangy dressing that perfectly complements the crispness of the fresh vegetables.

Turkish Shepherd salad up close

Turkish Shepherd salad, known as Çoban salatas? (“cho-bahn sah-lah-tah-suh), It is a simple salad with the primary ingredients of tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions. It is popular in Turkey, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, especially during the summer when vegetables are at their peak.   

While there are slight regional variations, the essence of the salad remains consistent, with finely chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in equal proportions and topped with a light dressing.

What is Shepherd Salad?

Turkish shepherd salad is a common salad made of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and parsley that are all chopped into small, even pieces. The salad dressing combines sumac, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil, creating a floral and spicy flavor.

The salad’s simplicity allows the vegetables’ natural flavors to shine through. It is perfect on its own or as a side to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. 

Turkish Shepherd salad is named after, you guessed it, shepherds in Turkey. Folklore says the shepherds would take a small portion of their crops home to make a simple summer salad before returning to work in the afternoon.

Ingredients chopped finely.

Turkish Spices for Shepherd Salad Recipe

This recipe combines the unique Middle Eastern flavors of sumac, Aleppo pepper, and fresh mint leaves. Together, they create a harmonious blend of flavors that can elevate and bring a Mediterranean flavor to this salad. Here is a little bit more detail on each spice.

  • Sumac is native to the Mediterranean region, particularly in Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Sumac has a deep reddish-purple color. The flavor is tangy and slightly acidic.
  • Aleppo Pepper has a mild, fruity, and slightly smoky flavor. The heat is very mild, and the color is a vibrant red. The texture of Aleppo pepper is typically coarse and flakey. Aleppo pepper is named after the city of Aleppo in Syria, where it originated.
  • Fresh mint leaves have a refreshing and cool flavor with a hint of menthol. Mint adds a fresh pop of flavor to Shepherd’s salad.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients used in the recipe.
  • Roma Tomatoes – Look for fresh tomatoes that are bright red and firm. 
  • Cucumbers – English or Persian Cucumbers –
    • Generally, you will want to use a medium-sized Persian or English cucumber.
    • The traditional version of this salad, the cucumber, is pealed. I like to leave the peel on to the maximum amount of vitamins. However, if the cucumber has been coated in wax, I always peel it. 
  • Green Bell Pepper – 
    • Substittue – Any colored bell pepper
  • Red Onion – 
    • Substittue – yellow, white, or green onions. 
  • Fresh Parsley – You can use either curly or flat-leaf parsley.
  • Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Sumac
  • Turkish pepper – I am using Aleppo pepper because it is easy to find. You can use any Turkish pepper or crushed Red Pepper. 
  • Fresh lemon juice – There is no substitute for fresh lemon juice; the bottled stuff always tastes funky.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Turkish Shepard salad up close.

Top Tips

Freshness is Key: Always use the freshest ingredients for the best flavor. The vegetables should be bright and firm without blemishes.   

Chop Finely and Evenly:  Getting the veggies the same size is key to this salad. If it helps, use a food processor for the cucumber and bell pepper. Cut everything else by hand, especially the tomato and onion! 

High-Quality Olive Oil:  Use the best quality olive oil within your budget.  

Paring Suggestings

How to Store

Place the salad in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. If the vegetables have shed water, drain the water and redress as needed.

Salad on a plate.
Turkish Shepherd salad up close

Turkish Shepherd Salad: Çoban Salatas

Shepherd salad, known as Çoban salatas? ("cho-bahn sah-lah-tah-suh), is a simple salad using tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions as its primary ingredients to create a light, healhty and refreshing salad. This salad is popular in Turkey, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean,
5 from 3 votes
Print Rate
Course: All Day
Cuisine: Lebanese, Mediterranean, Turkish
Servings: 6 sides
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 Sharp knife
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 1 small mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1 half tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 and 1 half tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ teaspoon Sumac Optional
  • ¼ teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes Seeded and diced
  • 2 English or Persian Cucumbers Seeded and diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper Seeded and diced
  • ½ Red Onion Diced
  • ¼ cup Parsley Loosy packed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Mint Finely Chopped (sub 1 teaspoon dry mint)

Instructions

  • Combine olive oil, lemon, sumac, and Aleppo pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut the tomatoes, cucumbers, and green bell pepper in half and remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion into small equal sizes. Finely chop the parsley and fresh mint. Toss all the ingredients together and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Turkish Shepherd Salad: Çoban Salatas
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
85
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
7
g
11
%
Sodium
 
8
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
6
g
2
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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