In the sweltering summer heat, where would we be without the light, fresh flavours of a crisp and crunchy salad? A few days ago, on the Sunday market in Çalış, it was semizotu (purslane) that caught our eye. It was just asking to be made into a purslane and tomato salad (domatesli semizotu salatası).
The vibrant summer colours – the stark contrast of the greens and red – and the zingy flavours of the sumac and the dressing; this Turkish tomato and purslane salad can be eaten as a side. Or, if you want make it into a standalone meal, some crumbled white cheese (like feta) and walnuts go really well.
Savouring tasty food is one of life’s great pleasures. And savouring tasty food that also happens to be part of the Superfood gang is always going to be a gratefully accepted bonus. Semizotu is rammed with all sorts of goodness.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Purslane?
So, what are the benefits of eating purslane? Aside from the fact that it’s a really tasty green that you can forage for under your own steam if you are that way inclined, semizotu is bursting with omega-3 fatty acids. Five times more than spinach, in fact!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our growth, development, prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. So, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, purslane is going to be great for you! For the rest of us, we can get our omega-3 fatty acids from both purslane and fish.
The health benefits of purslane don’t stop there, either. But we are not nutritionists. We’ll leave that to the experts. For us, we’re just going to be enjoying the texture and flavour of this Superfood in our summer purslane and tomato salad recipe.
Making Purslane & Tomato Salad
Building up the purslane and tomato salad is a simple process. If you buy semizotu from the markets in Turkey, it’s sold in bunches. We cut the thick stems from the bottom, give the purslane a good wash and then dry it in the salad spinner. Then it’s simply a case of pulling the leaves and buds from the stems and adding them to your salad bowl.
Then we chop half a bunch of parsley and add that. Sliced onion goes in next, followed by a red and a green pepper. A sprinkling of sumac and then a mix. We leave the tomato until the end because we don’t want it to make the rest of the salad damp and soggy. The tomatoes are laid across the top until we serve the salad.
In the summer months, Fethiye’s tomatoes are in their prime so we use large ones and chop them up. You need a good sweet tomato so use cherry tomatoes if you’re not in sunny climes.
Our Turkish Purslane & Tomato Salad Recipe
Okay, let’s make domatesli semizotu salatası. Here’s all your ingredients and the method.
Turkish Purslane & Tomato Salad
For The Purslane & Tomato Salad
- 1 bunch purslane
- 3 medium tomatoes or 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1 red pepper deseeded & roughly chopped
- 1 green pepper deseeded & roughly chopped
- 1 onion peeled, halved & sliced into half moons
- ½ bunch parsley roughly chopped
- 2 tsp sumac
For The Dressing
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 dessert spoonful pomegranate molasses or juice of ½ lemon
- ½ lemon juiced
- salt & pepper to taste
For The Purslane & Tomato Salad
- First of all, wash your purslane and dry in a salad spinner.
- Now remove all the leaves and put them into your serving bowl. Discard the thick stems.
- Now add your parsley, peppers and onion.
- Sprinkle the sumac over your salad and carefully mix.
- Chop your tomatoes into bite-sized chunks (or halve them if using cherry tomatoes) and carefully scatter over the top of the salad.
- Place your purslane and tomato salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
For The Dressing
- Mix all your ingredients together in a ramekin dish.
- Do a taste test and add more of whatever you feel is necessary.
- As with all of our recipes, the calories per serving of purslane and tomato salad is meant as a rough guide. The amount will vary slightly depending on your quantities.
- We used the Turkish sivri biber (long, pointed peppers). If you can't find these, you can use bell peppers.
- Add your dressing to the purslane and tomato salad just before serving.
- The Turkish for purslane is 'semizotu'
When you are ready to serve your salad, remove it from the fridge and drizzle your dressing over the top. As we said in our roasted green bean salad recipe, we love tangy dressings so we add extra lemon juice and nar ekşisi. If you prefer, you can have a more olive oil-based dressing by not adding as much lemon.
Gently toss your purslane and tomato salad so that the dressing coats all the ingredients and it’s now ready to be enjoyed.
We love this salad as a side to grilled meat or fish. It also goes great with Turkish white cheese (beyaz peynir).
One of my favourite breakfast snacks is to put some sliced white cheese on rye crackers, with semizotu and tomato salad on top with a good dose of the dressing drizzled over. A perfect start to the day.
Semizotu & Tomato Salad Recipe – Afternotes
- Add white cheese and walnuts to your purslane and tomato salad if you want to make a more filling, standalone dish.
- Most people also add chopped cucumber to their salad. Feel free to do this – we just prefer the flavours as they are.
- If you are in Turkish restaurants and are looking at restaurant menus that have been translated into English and you see ‘watercress salad,’ this is very likely to be purslane salad.
- Turks use semizotu in many dishes. We’ll be exploring more of these in the future.
- If you are looking for other light Turkish salads, then shepherd’s salad is a real favourite amongst Turks – and us.
- You can find our purslane and tomato salad recipe in the ‘meze and salads’ section on our page of Turkish recipes.