Despite living in the East Village—an area in New York with one of the most diverse and vibrant food scenes in the world—I'm embarrassed to admit that repeated delivery orders from various Turkish restaurants led me to discover one of my all-time favorite meals: the traditional chopped shepherd salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, feta, and parsley topped with a chicken kebab and drenched in olive oil and red wine vinegar.
One would assume that the average adult could simply look at this salad and instinctively know how to make it themselves, but my long work hours coupled with limited knowledge in the kitchen made me a regular Seamless.com food delivery customer instead. Fortunately for my bank account, I've since graduated to making this meal in my own kitchen, and it's quickly become one of my go-to lunches or dinners (I probably make some version of it at least three times a week).
I initially looked up the shepherd's salad recipe online to make sure I wasn't leaving anything out, but I've since formulated my own version that changes based on what I have in my fridge and pantry. While I typically pass on the chicken for time's sake (I am always beyond hungry when I get home from work), I follow the New York Times' chicken shawarma recipe (made on the stovetop instead of in the oven) when I'm looking for some added protein and have a bit more time to cook.
I love how easy, healthy, and filling this dish is. In just 10 minutes, I get in my recommended daily intake of vegetables, plus a bit of fiber from the chickpeas, protein from the hemp hearts and chicken, and healthy fats from the pumpkin seeds. Here's my go-to recipe; feel free to create your own version of this meal.
Cucumber, chopped in quarters
Roma tomatoes, cut in halves
Red onion, chopped
Parsley, finely chopped
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil (I recommend Cobram Estate)
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted naan bread on the side
Kale (for added fiber)
Pumpkin seeds (for a nice crunch)
Hemp hearts (for added fiber—I have Manitoba Harvest's organic version in my pantry)
Annie's Organic goddess dressing (for added flavor)
Soom's sesame tahini (At one point, I drizzled some of this on top, and it was a delicious addition.)
Mix the cucumber, roma tomatoes, and onions in a serving bowl. Top with add-ons and drizzle sesame tahini and goddess dressing if desired. Sprinkle parsley and feta on top.