Few things transport me directly back to Turkey like a Mezze dish. It's my favourite way to eat! Countless (I always lose count) small plates of food arrive in an seemingly endless train of waiters. Delicious dish after delicious dish. From simple vegetables to tiny mouthfuls of fish and meat. Let's of scooping, dipping and wrapping ensues until barely able to move I concede - I tap out! The waiters stop and I go for a lie down.
Çoban Salatası - Shepherds Salad
One such dish that while not the most extravagant of creations is always on the table is this Turkish chopped salad or Turkish Shepherd Salad (Çoban Salatasi) as it's known locally. It's a simple salad that originated in Turkey and Azerbaijan that features a few fresh ingredients combined with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. It's a humble salad that brightens any meal with its clean, crisp qualities. The flavours in this chopped Turkish salad pair with absolutely everything - fish, meat, poultry - you name it! It's my kind of salad - simple, crunchy and packed with flavour.
A variation on the classic
My recipe for Turkish chopped salad deviates a little from the original in that, I substitute the traditional long green peppers, native to the region for regular bell peppers. I've found the authentic varieties in Supermarkets here, but when I can't I don't sweat it, and just mix up my peppers. For this recipe I did a half/half red and green pepper combo. Like most Turkish salad recipes, a little substitution make no difference - it's still delicious!
A creamy yoghurt topping
In Istanbul, I ate this salad from time to time topped with a very simple garlic yoghurt dressing. A light, creamy hit of light sour and garlic - a surprisingly amazing way of taking this dish to another level.
So, as salad dishes go, this chopped salad is not going to challenge anyone, and it's a great little dish to have up your sleeve for a relaxed, stress-free preparation for either a simple side, or as part of a larger Turkish inspired dinner table feast. If the latter is what you're after why don't you take a look at my Turkish Feast meal plan below. Hope you enjoy your salad!
A Turkish Dinner Meal Plan
This dinner plan will easily serve around 8-10 people - remember to include lots of flatbreads or crusty loaf or two. Turkish food is severely impaired if there's a lack of bread!
How to make my Turkish Chopped Salad
For the Salad
- 2 tomatoes (seeded & diced)
- ½ cucumber (peeled, seeded & diced)
- ¼ red onion (medium sized - diced)
- ½ red pepper (seeded & diced)
- ⅓ green pepper (seeded & diced)
- 2 tbsp parsley (chopped)
- 2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
For the Dressing
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
For the yoghurt topping
- 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt (plain)
- 4 tbsp milk
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- Aleppo pepper or Sumac (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
For the Salad
- Combine all the salad ingredients together in a bowl and fress with the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper.
For the yoghurt topping
- Whisk together all the yoghurt topping ingredients until smooth
Finishing the salad
- Decant the salad onto a platter into a bowl. Spoon over some of the yoghurt topping and, if using, sprinkle over some Aleppo pepper or sumac. Drizzle as generously as you're feeling with more extra virgin olive oil.
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