Turkish Recipes: Çoban Salatası (Shepherd Salad)

Whenever you go to any of the main tourist centres of Turkey, you will always see English (and sometimes German) translations on the restaurant menus. When we used to come to Fethiye on holiday, I would sit and look at the salads on the menu and one always stood out: Çoban Salatası – Shepherd’s Salad.

See, sometimes the translation doesn’t quite hit the mark. Great that I’d now learned the word for shepherd but what was a Shepherd Salad? Descriptions or photos never seemed to be present at the restaurants we chose, so I never ordered it.

A Turkish Recipe for Çoban Salatası (Shepherd Salad)

Let’s fast forward a few years to the present day. These days, especially throughout the Fethiye summer, it’s a rare occasion that we don’t have some type of side salad with our meal because they’re just so light during the hot months. Çoban Salatası is a favourite because it’s so simple.

Turkish Food - Çoban Salatası (Shepherds Salad)

An individual portion of Çoban Salatası (Shepherds Salad)

Shepherds’ Salad contains some essential ingredients

  •  Juicy, ripe tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Onion
  • Peppers (I use red or green peppers, depending on what mood I’m in)
  • Parsley

How you prepare those ingredients is up to you. The salad in the photo is an individual portion and that’s what today’s recipe is for – but if we have people round for food, we’ll make a huge plateful and usually use the large summer Fethiye tomatoes all chopped up. This makes for a lot more dressing in the salad as the tomato juices mix in, too.

  • First of all, cut an onion in half and then slice it into half-moons. Sprinkle sumac over the slices and mix them around to get an even coating. (Sumac has a slightly citric flavour and is perfect with onion. If you’re not in a country where sumac is common, you’ll be able to buy it from stores specialising in Middle Eastern and Turkish foodstuffs or online. It’s worth the effort.)
  • Chop 2 small cucumbers into chunks, as large or as small as you like – I like a chunky, crunchy salad – and add to your serving plate.
  • Do the same with your tomato and peppers. (I used a few cherry tomatoes because they looked so red on Fethiye market. Choose the ripest tomatoes you can find. I also used one red banana pepper.)
  • Roughly chop a handful of parsley and add it to the serving plate with the onion and mix it up.
  • We’ve already added sumac as an extra and here’s the next little optional extra. Finely chop a couple of mint leaves and sprinkle them into the salad. It’s something we’ve come across a few times recently in salads and we love it.

And for the dressing…

Roughly, 3 parts olive oil to one part lemon juice. Add that to an empty jar with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give it a good shake and then drizzle all over your salad. Lovely! If we’ve got some in, I also drizzle nar ekşisi over the salad, too because I can’t resist!

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  1. Oh YUM!!!!
    THAT is what I want for dinner. But, sadly, the cucumbers and tomatoes here in Singapore are not very nice.
    If we visit you in Fethiye, will you make us some Shepherd’s Salad? Pretty please? With a cherry tomato on top?

  2. @ Barbara: Hmmm, and do you think you’ll be making it to Turkey then? 🙂 Thought the fruit and veg in Singapore would be fab.

  3. So fresh…another few weeks of hot hot weather so dishes like this are perfect.

  4. @ Belinda: Yes, we’re soaking up the tail end of summer, too. Making the most of the salads. 🙂

  5. Sumac coated onions? This is perfect! I was given a packet of sumac and didn’t know what to do with it since I’m not too familiar with the spice, I guess this would be a good start to my sumac adventures. We have quite a few middle eastern shops now. I definitely will have to go browse thoroughly in one.

  6. @ ping: It’s a lovely flavour for salads. A bit like bitter lemon – great if your onions are a bit overpowering as it calms them down.

  7. @Julia — fruit and veg is fab through most of Asia. But we are in Singapore, where there is no land for agriculture. So we come home from the grocery store with celery imported from the U.S., apples from China, carrots from Australia, mushrooms from Malaysia… it’s very hit and miss. But the tomatoes and cucumber are usually miss.

  8. @ Barbara: Awww, now we REALLY feel sorry for you. I didn’t realise Singapore had to import so much. And there was me thinking I was doing a simple salad recipe, taking all the ingredients for granted! 🙂

  9. Hi – where can I buy nar eksisi in Singapore ?

  10. @ Nicky Hughes: If you can find any Turkish or Middle Eastern food stores there, maybe they’ll sell nar ekşisi.

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