As soon as the weather gets warm, I start craving cool, summery salads.
This one is especially perfect for lazy summer evenings. It’s crunchy and refreshing, and you can scoop it up with a fresh slice of pita bread (or pita chips), or eat it with a spoon.
Not to be confused with the heavy meat-and-potatoes-laden British dish, Shepherd’s Pie (!), Shepherd’s Salad is a scrumptious Turkish-style vegetarian chopped salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions. This dish actually reminds me of visits to my grandparents, when we often make the 40-minute drive to their favorite Armenian restaurant in New Jersey, and always, always order this.
In my version of Shepherd’s Salad, the dressing is light and lemony, with a little zing of salt and sumac. I use mint and cilantro, since as I’ve said before I’m not a fan of parsley, but that would work, too.
You can also add some richness of flavor, and make the dish more filling, by tossing in some crumbled feta cheese or olives. Especially if you’re having this, and only this, for dinner (which is really not a bad idea).
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(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
~ 2 tomatoes, diced
~ 1 large cucumber (or 6 small Persian cucumbers), diced
~ ½ red onion, diced
~ 1-2 sprigs mint, finely chopped
~ 5-6 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
~ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
~ 1 Tbsp. za’atar (a blend of thyme, sumac, sesame, and salt)
~ salt, white pepper, and cumin, to taste
~ pinch sesame seeds
~ several Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
~ ½ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
~ handful of Greek olives
How to make it:
1. Finely dice the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion; chop the fresh herbs.
2. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, za’atar, salt, white pepper, and cumin. Then drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix well to combine.
3. Optionally stir in some crumbled feta cheese, or first arrange the salad in a serving dish, then sprinkle sesame seeds and/or feta over the top. Serve as an accompaniment to other Middle Eastern dishes. (Best if eaten the same day it’s made.)
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Related recipe posts:
> Tabbouleh (Bulgar Wheat Salad with Mint and Parsley)
> Pita Chips with Labne Olive Oil Dip
> End-of-summer Tomato Salad