This Palestinian Cucumber Tomato Salad, also known as Jerusalem Salad is a delicious and simple chopped salad that comes together in under 20 minutes! A perfect side for heavy and rich mains.
This salad is closely related to the famous Persian salad (Shirazi salad) which typically includes other herbs like dill and the Turkish Salad (coban salatsi) which includes sumac and uses vinegar in the dressing. Even with these cultural differences, many families will have their own preferences and recipes.
This simple salad has a few different names including Salata Arabieh (Arabic Salad), Salata Mafrumeh (chopped salad), and Salata falahieh (Farmer’s salad). I choose to call it Jerusalem Salad because the recipe comes from my Parenteral grandmother’s side of the family that has lived in Jerusalem for centuries.
This is a perfect side dish to serve with heavy Levantine mains like chicken shish tawook, beef kebab, chicken kebab, Meat-Stuffed Pita (Arayes), Palestinian maftoul, za’atar chicken thighs, Moghrabieh, and musakhan (sumac chicken). I also love serving it with rice dishes like maqluba (upside down chicken and rice).
This Jerusalem salad recipe can be made year-round but I like to make it more often during the summer months when gorgeous and nutritious homegrown cucumbers and tomatoes are only a few steps away from my kitchen. I encourage you to grow your own as well if you can, or support your local farmers markets and buy fresh produce.
Jerusalem Salad vs. Israeli Salad
Without getting into a geopolitical discussion, this chopped salad has been enjoyed in Jerusalem and Palestine for centuries. It is a quintessential Palestinian Recipe. Even within Israel, it is called “salat aravi” (Arab or Arabic salad in Hebrew). The term Israeli Salad is used mostly in Western nations.
Many believe that the term Israeli salad or even the notion that this salad is one of Israel’s national dishes is cultural appropriation. In the words of Israeli chef Gil Hovav: “Of course it’s Arabic. Humous is Arabic. Falafel, our national dish, our national Israeli dish, is completely Arabic and this salad that we call an Israeli Salad, actually it’s an Arab salad, Palestinian salad. So, we sort of robbed them of everything.”
A few standard fresh ingredients and a simple vinegarette are all you need to make this delicious chopped salad.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Cucumbers: Persian cucumbers are my go-to for this recipe. They are tasty and have a very small seed cavity. You can also use English cucumbers but you might want to consider scooping out the seed cavity first. The seeds tend to add more moisture to salad making it rather soupy and we don’t want that!
- Tomatoes: I like to use heirloom slicer tomatoes and ripe tomatoes on the vine. They are easy to chop into small cubes. You can use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes so, but keep them in halves/quarters rather than trying to chop them up.
- Bell Pepper: A red bell pepper gives this salad a sweet touch. You can also use green bell pepper. Try my Fiesta Salad recipe too if you like a hearty chopped salad.
- Onions: I prefer to use green onions (scallions) for my recipe. But you can use regular or red onion. Bear in mind that standard onions will be stronger in flavor so you might want to add less.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh parsley and mint are standard fare. Parsley is a must but if you don’t have mint, don’t worry you can skip it.
- Acid: Fresh lemon juice is the traditional acid used in the vinegarette. You can use vinegar if you wish but that won’t make it as traditional. If you do use vinegar, use a light-colored one like white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar.
- Oil: Use that good extra-virgin olive oil! There is no substitution for good quality EVOO.
Other possible additions to the salad: Chili peppers, hot pepper flakes, chopped lettuce, and sumac.
How to Make Palestinian Chopped Salad
- Dressing. In a large mixing bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, a big pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Mix well (Image 1).
- Make salad. To the same bowl, add all the salad ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning (Image 2).
- Keep it even. Chop the ingredients as evenly as possible into small pieces about ½ inch (1cm) in size. We want the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to all be roughly the same size.
- Tomato Seeds. If your tomatoes are very seedy and juicy, consider cutting out the seed cavities and discarding them.
- Peel the cucumber. If you are using large cucumbers like English or Pickling, consider peeling them before chopping.
- Make it Greek! Chop the ingredients less finely, add some feta cheese and you have a Greek salad.
- Turn it into Fattoush! Chop the ingredients into larger pieces, add some sliced radish, sumac, lettuce and toasted pita bread.
- Make it hearty. You can add canned beans or chick peas to this salad to make a more substantial meal.
Yes, a popular version of this salad can be made with tahini paste. Simply replace the olive oil with tahini and thin out the dressing with water. This is called a tahini chopped salad and it is a popular side dish for grilled or fried fish.
This Jerusalem salad can be made 1 day ahead of time, just don’t mix in the dressing in advance. Keep the chopped produce separate from the dressing in individual airtight containers and mix everything before serving. I also suggest you avoid salting the salad if you plan to make it ahead of time.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Note that this salad doesn’t stay fresh the next day.
If you make this Jerusalem Salad (Palestinian Cucumber Tomato Salad) recipe or any other side dishes on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe.
Jerusalem Salad (Cucumber Tomato Salad)
- 3 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 tablespoon Lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Medium tomatoes - trimmed and chopped into small ½ inch cubes
- 4 Persian cucumbers - trimmed and chopped into small ½ inch cubes
- 1 Red bell pepper - seeded and chopped into small ½ inch cubes
- 3 Green onions - Chopped
- ¼ cup Flat leaf parsley - Finely chopped
- ¼ cup Fresh mint - Finely chopped (Optional, but recommended)
- Dressing. In a large bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, a big pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Mix well.
- Make salad. To the same bowl, add all the salad ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- You can use an English cucumber instead of Persian. Scrape the seeds out before chopping.
- Slicer or vine tomatoes are ideal, but you can use cherry or Roma tomatoes too.