Turkish Shepherd’s Salad, known as Çoban Salatası in Turkish or Choban Salad, is a favorite in Turkish cuisine. This fantastic yet straightforward alternative to green salads consists of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, long and sweet green peppers, onions, and flat-leaf parsley with a classic Turkish dressing: olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. A refreshing and light summer salad in 10 minutes!
Salads as side dishes play a vital role at the Turkish table, and Shepherd’s Salad is one of the most traditional ones of all. It is inexpensive, simple, and quick to prepare when you do not feel like making green or lettuce salads.
Based on The Turkish Cookbook (Phaidon 2019) by Musa Dağdeviren,
There is no mention of this popular salad anywhere until the 1950s. Shepherds probably took a few tomatoes and an onion in their sacks to eat for lunch. They smashed the onion, halved the tomatoes and ate them together in a rudimentary salad…
This famous Turkish salad requires only a handful of ingredients to create a light, healthy, and refreshing appetizer. It’s mostly known as a side dish for pilafs or grilled meat dishes in Turkey. However, it’s also perfect as a starter, a dip, or a side dish for any day. It’s best to consume it when fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers are in season and plentiful during summer months.
HOW TO MAKE
You might find a lot of versions of this simple salad on the internet. Some prefer peeling and seeding the cucumbers and tomatoes or use red onion in slightly larger cuts. Traditionally (also in the city restaurants), the ingredients are chopped more finely.
The Turkish salads use olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, vinegar, or pomegranate molasses as dressing. The amount you use would differ depending on your taste or dietary preferences. I usually like my salads with lots of lemon juice and a little bit of olive oil. If you are following an oil-free diet, you can completely omit the olive oil. This salad would always be memorable.
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- 3 medium tomatoes (ripened but firm. diced into small cubes)
- 2 small cucumbers (firm. diced into small cubes)
- 2 long, sweet green peppers (seeded and chopped)
- 2 onions (finely chopped)
- 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 tbsp unripe grape juice / grape vinegar (optional)
- 1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tsp sumac (or to taste)
- Dice the tomatoes into small cubes.
- Dice the cucumbers into small cubes. You can peel the skin if you prefer, but I like it with the skin.
- Dice the onions into small cubes.
- Finely chop the flat-leaf parsley bunch.
- Mix everything together in a large, deep bowl.
- Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, unripe grape juice, and salt into the salad mix.
- Toss everything gently.
- Let stand for a couple of minutes, and enjoy this healthy and light summer salad!
This salad tastes the best when it’s served fresh and consumed in one sit. Preparing in excess amount and keeping it in the refrigerator make the ingredients soggy. So mix them all together just before serving time. You can add vegan feta cheese as an option.