Simple Middle Eastern Salad

Simple Middle Eastern Salad

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Jacqueline Rafidi

Every meal needs a good salad, and this simple Middle Eastern salad goes with just about everything you could think of.

Why am I calling this a simple Middle Eastern salad? I’ve had many comments throughout the years on this recipe asking this question. Although similar salads are made throughout the world, this salad is enjoyed throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean with variations throughout each country. 

This version, what I and many others know as Arabic salata (“salad” in Arabic), or Arabic chopped salad uses sumac and dried mint in the dressing. Sometimes even pomegranate molasses! These are traditional Arab ingredients, therefore this is the Arab version of this salad. 

The Greek version also known as horiatiki  salad, tends to have larger pieces of veggies, and oregano and a generous block of fresh feta cheese

Salad Shirazi is enjoyed throughout Iran and although very similar to this salad, it does not use dried mint. A traditional ingredient that is also often found in the shirazi version of this is ab ghooreh, which is a sour grape juice that Iranians sometimes use in place of the lemon juice here. I also love using this as well!

Simple Middle Eastern Salad

The veggies:  I always switch it up depending on what I have and what I’m serving the salad with. But you can almost always guarantee I’ll be using:
Tomatoes:  Whether they’re vine ripe fresh tomatoes (which tend to be my favorite), roma tomatoes (sometimes I like using these because they have less juice/seeds), grape tomatoes or colorful cherry tomatoes. This veggie always adds the necessary sweetness, tang and juiciness to the salad and lends a delicious flavor to any meal.

Cucumbers: Persian cucumbers are my favorite and one that I always have on hand because my kids love to snack on them. The skin on these is not bitter like English cucumbers and they have a slight sweetness to them and no seeds. They’re just the best all around. I also love using these in my tzatziki sauce and my khiyar bil laban which is an Arab yogurt and cucumber salad that is delicious with BBQs 
If you can’t find Persian cucumbers near you, I’d recommend the next best thing which is hothouse cucumbers – almost like a longer version of a Persian cucumber but not quite the same. 

Onions: I love raw onion in this salad. My favorite is red onion because it’s more mild than a yellow onion and lends such a pretty color. Green onions would also work here but I tend to go for red onions or shallots.

Herbs: Fresh herbs add so much flavor and beautiful color to this Middle Eastern chopped salad. Fresh parsley is always a must for me. You can add curly or flat leaf or curly parsley here, but I do lean towards flat leaf. Fresh mint is also delicious in here and adds a special touch that makes it more of a traditional salad with Arabic meals. Dill or cilantro would also work if you have them, but I don’t often add them to this.

The extras: I usually end up adding bell peppers to this bright salad since I always have them on hand and they always add a pretty color and sweet flavor. Any color works, sometimes I even add half of 2 different colored bell peppers to add more variety. Red pepper tends to be my favorite but yellow and orange are just as delicious. Green pepper adds a good flavor but less sweet and more earthy. I also love adding radish for another fresh crunch. and a pop of pretty color. You could also add some pomegranate seeds for more color and a burst of sweetness & tanginess.

The Simple Salad Dressing

This part is so simple – hence the name of the salad – and I usually just add the ingredients right on top. I often don’t measure with this salad, to be honest and I find it works out best that way! Just taste as you go. You could also chop the salad ahead of time, mix up the dressing separately, and pour it on top when you’re ready to serve.
The dressing ingredients needed here are few, so they should be high quality:
Fresh lemon juice – always fresh. Never pre-juiced. Plain and simple.

Sumac – A citrusy spice. Just a teaspoon of a good quality sumac goes a long way! When buying sumac, you want to look for a purple color and the sumac should almost look wet. If its like auburn in color and dry looking, it just won’t be as good. If you’re in the states, check your local Arabic store. 

Extra virgin olive oil – ​As a Palestinian, Olive oil just runs through our veins. You definitely want extra virgin olive oil here. The absolute best quality you can find!

Dried mint – ​This actually gives a different flavor from fresh mint and adds pretty green speckles throughout the salad which I find so appetizing. 

Salt and black pepper of course. 

You can also grate some fresh garlic into this dressing as well which I sometimes do!

Shake these ingredients up in a mason jar, whisk them together in a small bowl or just add everything right on top of the salad. It’ll be delicious either way!

What to eat this Arabic salad with

You could simply enjoy this salad in some pita bread as a sandwich, or in a bowl for a side dish or snack. Drizzle on some tahini, any leftover roasted veggies, some cheese. Literally anything! The salad + bread alone is a great base.

I also love adding this salad to my chicken shawarma bowls. the color and fresh ingredients really make the bowl pop, and all the Middle Eastern flavors blend together deliciously. 

Mujaddara! You can’t have mujaddara without this salad + an Arab style pickle. Pure heaven and the complete meal is ready in about 30 mins.

Switch things up!

Add some romaine lettuce to this salad, and you’ll get another amazing salad that goes perfect with Arabic meals and plain yogurt. My Arabic salad with lettuce is a favorite in with my family year round.

Along with the lettuce, add some crunchy pita chips and some pomegranate molasses to the dressing and you’ll get fattoush! My fattoush recipe is one of my ALL TIME favorite salads! 

Tabbouleh is typically made with parsley and bulgur as the min ingredients, but my family tends to add tons of veggies as well. Add a tonnn of chopped parsley and some cooked bulgur and you’ll have a variation of tabbouleh

Salata tahini! Take all the chopped ingredients of this salad and add a tahini dressing from my tahini salad (salata tahini) recipe! So delicious with shawarma or falafel. 

When you make this simple Middle Eastern salad, comment down below and rate this recipe to let me know your thoughts! Also share a picture or tag me on Instagram @thebitewithjackie, I love seeing your remakes!

Simple Middle Eastern Salad

A simple and traditional salad that we eat with almost everything!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

For the salad

  • 3-4 Persian cucumbers very finely diced
  • 2 Tomatoes I like to use vine ripe tomatoes, very finely diced
  • 2 Raddishes chopped
  • 1 Red bell pepper very finely diced
  • 1/4 red onion very fienly diced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves chopped finely
  • 5 fresh mint leaves chopped finely

For the dressing

  • 1 lemon juiced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Add all of the chopped ingredients to a salad bowl
  • Directly on the top of the chopped vegetables, add all the dressing ingredients. Mix and serve as desired with a meal, as a side dish or eat as is.

Notes

Serving suggestions: Add garbanzo beans, chicken, steak, or seafood for some extra protein and to turn the salad into a meal. Or, serve alongside a main meal for a fresh bite. Enjoy!
Keyword Simple Middle Eastern Salad

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this the same day I saw the video. Very healthy and tasty. It’s best to eat it all the same day, though. The next day the tomatoes don’t look as crisp but as far as the recipe goes, I did exactly to the T and it came out fabulous.

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