Tomato, Cucumber, Walnut Salad: Gavurdağı Salatası

This salad is named after Gavur Mountain (part of Taurus Mountain range) in the Southeastern Gaziantep region of Turkey.

In Gaziantep, a good cook is known as a kerdiman. The cuisine of this region contains a variety of dishes brought by immigrants to the region, as well as dishes influenced by the close proximity to Syria [1].

I was skeptical about ordering gavurdağı salatası when I first saw it on a restaurant menu in Kadıköy. I thought it would be just another tomato and cucumber salad, but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. The key ingredients in making this salad special are the chopped walnuts and the pomegranate molasses.

I like to eat this salad for lunch with a hearty grain on the side, such as brown rice or a chunk of whole wheat bread. It is also great as a side with dinner. In Turkey, it is often served with grilled meats.

Because tomatoes make up such a large part of this salad, it is best prepared in the summer when tomatoes are most flavorful.


Recipe:

Serves 3-4 as side dish, 2-3 as main dish

4 tomatoes, diced
2 cucumbers, diced
1 green pepper, chopped (sweet)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 large handful of walnuts, chopped
3-4 sprigs parsley, chopped
4 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (60 ml)
4 tablespoon olive oil (60 ml)
Pinch of salt

  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix to evenly distribute everything. This dish is meant to be rustic, so do not spend too much time on it.
  2. Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to serve.  It tends to taste better if you let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with a spoon.

Tips & Additional Information: 

  • If you do not think you will finish the entire salad on the day you prepare it, I would recommend that you do not mix the walnuts into the salad. You can serve the salad sprinkled with walnuts on top, and reserve the extra walnuts for the next day. If you mix the walnuts into the salad and let it sit overnight, they lose their crunchiness.

  • This salad does not keep very well, mainly because the tomatoes become soggy from sitting in the pomegranate molasses. I would suggest that if you make it for dinner and have leftovers, that you finish them for lunch the next day.

  • How to make pomegranate molasses if you cannot find it at your grocery store (but first, check a Middle Eastern market because they are sure to have some). You can also substitute with balsamic vinaigrette, but it will not have the traditional flavor.

[1] Turkish Cultural Foundation, Turkish Cuisine: http://www.turkish-cuisine.org/