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, known as Çoban salatas? ("cho-bahn sah-lah-tah-suh), It is a simple salad using tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions as its primary ingredients. 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.
Similar variations of this salad include the Iranian shiraz salad, chopped salad, Lebanese salad, Arab salad, and even Israeli salad in the United States.
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.
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.
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 that bring a Mederterrian 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
- 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
- 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
The nice thing about this salad is how easy it is to customize. Do you happen to have a yellow onion instead of a red one? No issues; substitute the onion with the one you already have. Another option is to add feta cheese and Greek olives to give it a Greek flair.
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.
What to Serve with Shepherds Salad
There is no shortage of items to serve with this salad. Ideas include:
- Piyaz - Turkish Bean Salad
- Ramadazan Pidesi - Turkish Flat Bread
- Authentic Lebanese Hummus
- Batata Harra - Spicy Lebanese Potatoes
Frequently Asked Questions
The salad originated from Turkish Shepherds who would use a small portion of their daily crops and combine them into a salad. The crops consisted of the vegetables used in the salad, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.
Turkish Shepherd Salad is a chameleon. You can enjoy it as a salad, part of a mezze, as a side, or even as a smaller garnish. Typically this salad is served with kabobs, grilled meats, and roasted chicken, adding color and flavor.
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.
Turkish Shepherd Salad: Çoban Salatas
- 1 Sharp knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 medium mixing bowl
- 1 small mixing bowl
- 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 Persion 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 minit)
- Combine the olive oil, lemon, sumac, and Aleppo pepper in a small bowl and set aside.1 and 1 half tablespoons Olive Oil, 1 and 1 half tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice, ½ teaspoon Sumac, ¼ teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
- 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.4 Roma Tomatoes, 2 English or Persion Cucumbers, ½ Red Onion, ¼ cup Parsley, 2 tablespoons Mint, 1 Green Bell Pepper