This Spicy Turkish Ezme is a refreshing salad or spread that can be served as an appetizer or condiment. Loaded with bright summer flavors and a tingly heat, you’ll want to add a scoop of this to all kinds of dishes!
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An Amazing Turkish Tomato Salad
Ezme has been on my list of things to make for at least a year now. We have a wonderful Turkish restaurant here in Columbus that serves this spicy tomato salad as an appetizer, accompanied by puffy, warm hunks of pita.
Every time we visit, we order the hummus and ezme for our appetizers, and by the time our main courses come I’m almost too full to eat them. This combo is so flavorful, refreshing, and satisfying, I can easily turn it into a meal.
With tomato season about to reach its peak, I decided it was finally time to try my hand at the recipe.
After a little experimenting, we came up with this ezme recipe, which is made with common ingredients and tastes darn near close to our beloved restaurant version. I can’t wait for you to try spicy ezme for yourself!
What is Ezme?
Ezme is a Turkish appetizer, traditionally served alongside hummus or pita or used as a condiment for kebabs, cubed lamb, or other grilled meats. You can think of it like the Turkish version of relish or salsa.
While there are many different versions of this dish, most of them share a few core ingredients.
Ingredients in Turkish Ezme Salad:
- Fresh tomatoes– Tomatoes form the base of ezme salad, so using fresh, in season tomatoes is a must. In the Midwest, our tomatoes don’t have much flavor through the winter months, so I usually only make this salad in the summer and early fall.
- Bell peppers
- Fresh lemon juice
- Olive oil
I’m sure you can already see what an incredibly fresh and flavorful dish this is, but we haven’t added the best part!
Ezme is fresh, yes, but it also has a deep, rich, tingly heat that wakes up your tastebuds and brightens up anything it accompanies.
Turkish hot red pepper paste (or biber salcasi) is commonly used to achieve that tingly heat, but I’ve never had luck finding it in the grocery store.
Instead, I use:
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Tomato Paste
You can completely control the heat in this to suit your taste buds. Leave the seeds in the jalapenos for a lot of spice, or remove them for a more mild dish. You can also use more or less red pepper flakes as desired.
For seasoning, I like to use a little sea salt and sumac. Sumac is a tangy, lemony seasoning. If you can’t find it in your grocery store, za’atar is a good substitute.
Our favorite restaurant version also includes chopped walnuts, which I find to be a lovely addition, though completely optional.
How to Make Ezme
This recipe is as simple as combining all the ingredients together and popping them in the fridge for a bit to meld together.
That said, I have a few recommendations.
- For the best flavor and texture, hand chop all the vegetables. I know it sounds tedious, but it really makes a difference!
- If you’d like to speed things up, you can combine all the vegetables except the tomatoes in a food processor along with the walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until just diced.
- I always recommend chopping the tomatoes by hand so the mixture doesn’t become one homogenous paste in the food processor. The unique texture of all the vegetables is part of what makes Turkish ezme so good!
What to serve with Turkish Salsa
This salad, when combined with smooth, creamy homemade hummus is the perfect marriage of flavors. The hummus cools down the heat of the ezme, while the ezme adds spice and depth to the hummus. A swipe of hummus and a scoop of ezme balanced on homemade pita bread or (my personal favorite) puffy Turkish bread is the perfect summer bite!
This also makes a great condiment for Beef Kafta or the less traditional, but still delicious, Greek Hot Dogs. It’s also a great addition to Vegetable Platters, charcuterie boards, and even your morning eggs! The heat is a great way to wake up your taste buds!
This is an ideal make ahead party appetizer recipe and it plates beautifully. Just swirl your hummus on a pretty plate, spoon some ezme on top, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
The Mr. said it looked and tasted restaurant quality. I can’t think of a higher compliment.
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley
- 1 jalapeno, seeded or not (based on your heat preference)
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded
- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
Finely chop the tomatoes, parsley, jalapeno, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and walnuts. Place them in a large bowl along with any juices on the cutting board.
Place ingredients in a large bowl along with all the juices.
Finely chop tomatoes and parsley by hand and add them to the bowl.
Stir in olive oil, lemon juice, dried red pepper flakes, tomato paste, salt, and sumac. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with another drizzle of olive oil alongside pita, hummus, or grilled meats.
- Traditional ezme is hand chopped, but you can use a food processor to speed up the process. Place everything but the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse just until finely chopped. You want the vegetables to still have individual texture and not just turn into a homogenous paste. For this reason, I always recommend chopping the tomatoes by hand and stirring them into the other vegetables if you're using a food processor.
- If desired you can replace the jalapeno, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste with 1-2 Tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 277mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 2g
Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.