An ode to salad is not something I ever imagined myself writing before I fell in love with Turkish salad. And yes, I know it’s 4 days before Christmas and salad is not exactly front of mind right now, but I had the most heavenly Turkish salad the other day, which inspired me to write about it. And you never know, maybe after the orgy of Christmas is through, you might just fancy something light, fresh and extremely good for you.
One of the first things M ever made for me, aside from his marvellous turn at breakfast, was Turkish salad. And me-oh-my, let me assure you that, despite his protestations that he really cannot cook at all, he makes a cracking salad.
So what makes a Turkish salad Turkish, I hear you cry? Well, personally, I’m not convinced that there are any meaningful differences between Turkish and Greek salads – but woe betide anyone who says that out loud here in Istanbul. A lot of people feel very strongly that there IS a difference – although when pressed, most struggle to identify a more sophisticated answer than that Turkish salad is just ‘better’. In my experience, both boast such a range of twists and variations depending season and whimsy that it’s difficult to point to one salad as definitively Turkish or Greek.
For me, what defines Turkish salad – and what I love about it – is threefold:
- The use of VERY fresh seasonal vegetables
- The VERY fine chopping of said vegetables
- And finally, the VERY simple dressing of said chopped vegetables
And making a Turkish salad couldn’t be simpler. The recipe below goes very well alongside şakşuka and all manner of other dishes.
Serves: as many as you want it to, just adjust the amount of veg you use
Preparation time: 10 minutes (unless you’re making salad for twenty, that much chopping might take a bit longer)
What you need:
Your favourite salad-type ingredients in sufficient quantity for everyone eating (I like everything, but we usually stick to tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, rocket, and onion)
2 generous handfuls of coriander or parsley
1-2 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, squeezed (you could also use 1 dspn vinegar)
1-2 tsp salt (or to taste)
How to make it
- Wash your veg and herbs
- Chop everything into roughly 1-centimetre pieces
- Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil and lemon, sprinkle over the salt and toss well with your hands until all the leaves are well coated.
- Check the seasoning and serve.
Other tasty stuff to try
There are so many variations on this theme it’s impossible to quantify them, but the above makes for my favourite. Here are a few examples of other types of Turkish salad:
- This mammoth list of recipes for Turkish salad will give you some idea of the diversity out there. Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook is always a good source of inspiration for Turkish recipes.
- Corban salatası, or Shepherd’s salad – this is pretty similar to what we in the UK think of as a traditional Greek salad, with cheese and olives. The use of sumac is a delicious addition.
- This parsley and tomato salad with pomegranate molasses from the wonderful IstanbulEats.com looks like an immense thing to do in the spring and summer when parsley is abundant.
- This one from TheClothesMakeTheGirl.com also looks brilliant.