Coban Salatasi (pronounced: Choh-bahn Sah-lah-tah-see) or Turkish Shepherd’s Salad is one of the most popular cold summer salads in Turkey. Miss Party could always count on this colorful, rustic salad to be on every restaurant menu during her AMAZING visit to Istanbul –each version delicious!
Coban Salatasi originated from the Turkish country shepherd’s daily lunch. Every morning for hundreds of years, the Turkish shepherd has walked out to the pastures with the village’s animals and his faithful shepherding dogs carrying a small bundle containing his lunch ingredients. His bundle would contain: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion and lemon; a small container of olive oil, and maybe a little bread, cheese and olives. Later in the morning, the shepherd would assemble his salad in a wooden bowl and let it sit until lunchtime.
This colorful summer salad is typically served as a side dish for grilled meat or fish; or as a meze (starter) ahead of the main course with other cold salads or spreads to keep guests busy noshing and chatting while waiting. Serve with flat bread such as pita, which is perfect for scooping up the salad and soaking up the dressing.
Serves 8-10, but can easily be halved or doubled.
7 ripe tomatoes
3-4 small cucumbers (small cucumbers have more flavor)
2 green peppers
1 red onion
whole, black olives for garnish
1/2 bunch fresh, flat-leaf parsley (chop leaves only)
Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons (strain out seeds)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mediterranean Sea salt and pepper
1) Dice onion and place in a small bowl. Salt the onions and set aside while chopping the other vegetables. The salt softens the onions.
2) Seed and chop the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers into equally-sized, small cubes. Toss the vegetables in a large, non-reactive bowl.
3) Place onions on a paper towel and lightly pat dry to remove excess liquid. Add onions to bowl of chopped vegetables.
4) Chop/mince parsley leaves and add to bowl.
5) Separately, add lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper (to taste) to bowl of chopped vegetables and toss.
6) Cover and let salad sit for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to marinate. Salad is usually served at room temperature, but cold is fine, if preferred. If serving family-style, use small oval platters instead of bowls, garnish with black olives. Serve with flat bread such as pita.
Miss Party has created her own version of the basic recipe, preferring fewer ingredients. Other ingredients you might include are: thinly sliced chili peppers (instead of green pepper); crumbled feta cheese (Greek influence); chopped black olives; scallions (instead of onion); fresh dill, or red wine vinegar.
Aran, Lale Surmen and Aran, Tankut. Rick Steves, Istanbul, Fourth Edition. Avalon Travel, Perseus Books Group, California, 2011.