Tunisian salad, also called Salad Tunisienne or Slata Tounsiya, is a traditional chopped salad from Northwest Africa’s Mediterranean coast. With canned tuna, hard boiled eggs, olives, fresh herbs, and loads of fruits and vegetables, this refreshing salad is a satisfying and nutritious dinner for a hot day.
Tunisian salad is a classic summery salad that mixes very finely chopped vegetables at the peak of their ripeness when they are bursting with flavor.
This salad always contains four essential Mediterranean staples: Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions. In addition to such classic Mediterranean ingredients (also found in recipes like Greek salad or Shopska Salata), this salad also surprises you with diced green apple. The apple’s juicy, tart sweetness balances out the sour, citrusy tones of the lemon-based dressing.
The wonderful thing about this salad to me is its versatility. As one of the most well known meals in Tunisian cuisine, this salad is enjoyed daily in any setting, home or restaurant alike. In its most basic version, it’s an easy appetizer or side salad with an irrevocable place on feast tables. May favorite way to enjoy it, though, is to top with olives, tuna and hard-boiled eggs, and serve as a well-rounded lunch or dinner.
Every family has their own version, as is quite common with popular national dishes. My recipe was inspired by the dish I grew to love during my many years of living and studying in Tunis, Tunisia's capital city.
Table of Contents
Tunisian Salad Ingredients
Like the many passionate arguments sparked regarding what belongs and doesn't belong in a Salade Niçoise, there is some debate on whether apple belongs in a Tunisian salad. I recommend you give it a try—I bet you become one of its many modern day defenders!
I also prefer to use fresh mint over the somewhat more typical dried herb version to flavor the salad. Feel free to use fresh or dried—whatever you have on hand. Regardless of what you choose to include or not include, the ingredients for Tunisian salad are simple, easy-to-find produce and pantry staples. Here’s what you need:
- Roma tomatoes: Small Roma tomatoes are firm and juicy. You can use other firm tomato varieties instead (heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, for example).
- English cucumbers: Skip the possibly bitter slicing cucumber if you can. Or, if that’s all you can find, peel off the waxy skin before dicing.
- Green peppers: Most typically bell peppers. If you like a bit of heat you can use or add mildly spicy varieties like jalapeños or Anaheims.
- Onions: Red, yellow or even white, you can use any you have on hand. Start with only half and add more to taste so that the flavor doesn’t overwhelm everything else.
- Mint: Either fresh or dried mint works. Chop it very finely if using fresh, or use only 1 tablespoon if using dried.
- Olive oil: I prefer to use a small batch, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for my salad dressings. Use any of the high quality extra virgin varieties from our shop.
- Lemon juice: Start with the juice of half a lemon and add more if you prefer more zing.
- Flat-leaf parsley: Finely chopped to blend in and add freshness to the flavor of the dressing.
- Green apple: You can omit this if you prefer but I highly recommend you give it a try first. You wouldn’t find it in the very traditional, basic versions, but it is a common and delicious addition nowadays.
- Eggs: Hard boil them ahead of time and chill a bit before peeling. Check out our how to boil eggs guide for tips, along with storage advice.
- Tuna: I always keep oil-packed canned tuna on hand for a quick shot of healthy protein. I like to use about a quarter can per serving to top the salad.
- Olives: Some like only black, some go with just green, I love to add both for more variety.
How to Make Tunisian Salad
To keep things traditional, serve Slata Tounsiya in a large ornamental bowl. Place the toppings in a visually interesting pattern to mark each portion. Use slices of fresh, crusty baguette as a delicious side. You can even use the bread in place of the fork to bring the delicious bites into your mouth!
- Boil the eggs. If you don't have boiled eggs on hand, boil them to your liking according to this guide. Peel and quarter them.
- Prepare the dressing. Just add 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, and the juice of ½ of a lemon to a screw top jar. Season with ¾ teaspoons each of salt and pepper, seal, and vigorously shake until emulsified. You can also just put the ingredients in a bowl or dish and whisk. Add more lemon juice to taste if needed.
- Prepare your vegetables, fruit and herbs. Slice 8 tomatoes and 2 English cucumbers in half and use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds, then finely dice. Finely dice 3 green bell peppers. Peel and finely dice 1 Granny Smith Apple. Finely chop a big handful of fresh mint leaves. Finely dice 1 red onion and keep it in a separate bowl for now.
- Time to chop and mix! Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, apple, and mint to a large serving bowl. Stir in the salad dressing.
- Add the onion to taste. Mix in half of the onion, taste, and add more onion to your liking. I usually end up using all of it but it really depends on personal taste. Remember that its tanginess will be tamed by the lemon juice and olive oil in the dressing.
- Decorate the salad. Just before serving, top with peeled and quartered hard boiled egg or two, ½ cup each of black and green olives, and a drained and flaked can of tuna. Serve the remaining hard boiled eggs on the side.
Can You Make this Salad Ahead of Time?
Tunisian salad does great in the fridge for up to 3 days, dressing and olives included. Just top it with tuna and egg at the last minute before serving it to your guests.
To keep the salad extra fresh, remove the egg and tuna before putting away leftovers. Store the salad, tuna, and eggs in separate containers.
Ways to Enjoy Slata Tounsiya
Slata Tounsiya can be enjoyed as well as a simple vegetable salad. Serve alongside a main like Lablabi for a filling and nutritious meal (leave off the tuna to make it fully vegetarian). The way it’s so finely chopped means it can also serve great as a juicy garnish for tuna or other sandwiches.
My favorite way to enjoy Tunisian salad is as a complete lunch or dinner unto itself. Serve with some fresh baguette to sop up all the delicious juice that gets left over in the dish.
Either way, I recommend you enjoy it with a nice glass of chilled white wine or rosé. Finish with some fresh mint tea to leave you feeling refreshed and satisfied. You can even happily reward yourself with a nice bite of syrupy baklava at the end of this healthy meal.
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Slata Tounsiya (Tunisian Salad)
For the Dressing
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of ½ - 1 lemon
For the Salad
- 8 Roma tomatoes
- 2 English cucumbers
- 3 green bell peppers, finely diced
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced
- A big handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (or subsitute with 1 tablespoon dried mint)
- ½ - 1 red onion, finely diced
- 5 hard boiled eggs, quartered
- ½ cup whole black olives (like Niçoise, Kalamata, or oil-cured black olives)
- ½ cup whole green olives (like Castelvetrano)
- 1 (5 ounce) can oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked
- Crusty baguette (optional), for serving
- Prepare the dressing. Add the olive oil, vinegar, parsley, salt, pepper, and the juice of ½ of a lemon to a screw top jar. Seal and vigorously shake until emulsified. You can also just whisk this together in a bowl. Add more lemon juice to taste if needed.
- Prepare your vegetables, fruit and herbs. Slice the tomatoes and cucumbers in half and use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds. Then finely dice.
- Mix and dress. In a large serving bowl, mix the finely diced tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, apple, and mint. Stir in the dressing.
- Add onion to taste. Mix in half the onion, taste, and add more onion to your liking. I usually end up using all of it but it really depends on personal taste. Remember that its tanginess will be tamed by the lemon juice and olive oil in the dressing.
- Finish the salad. Before enjoying, transfer the salad to a large serving bowl and top it with 6 wedges of hard boiled eggs, olives and tuna. You can use as much as you like of any of these depending on your taste preference and hunger level. Serve the remaining egg quarters on the side.
- Serve. Serve with a side of fresh crusty baguette slices, which can even be used as a vessel instead of the fork.
- Removing the seeds from the tomatoes and cucumbers prevents the salad from becoming watery. If you don’t want to discard the juicy seeds, they make a nice addition to a soup, like our gazpacho or a green drink, like our green juice.
- Chopping is Tunisia's national sport. Dice everything very finely, in as similar sized cubes as possible. It will take some time but it’s important so that the flavors can combine in every bite. To finely chop everything, use a freshly sharpened knife and start with the tomatoes, working the onions last so you don't have to wash the knife in between the veggies.
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