chopped salad of cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes

Shopska Salad Recipe

Salads don’t need lettuce to be salads.

In honor of my beautiful Bulgarian bride taking off to Bulgaria for FIVE LONG WEEKS, I’ve already made four shopska salads (and she’s only been gone for two days)!

I would have made five, but I only thought I had enough tomatoes. Off to Trader Joe’s after this…

Before I give you the ridiculously simple recipe, I have to point out something that’s obvious to a foreigner, but not so to an American. You simply must have good tomatoes for this recipe to be good.

Sure, pasty tomatoes are fine on your burger (not really, but you don’t know any better), but they won’t do here; the tomato makes the salad.

In Bulgaria, all clothing in the stores is soft, you’ve been able to pay your parking meter with a text message since 2010, and the absolute worst tomatoes are ‘amazing.’

Here, none of these things are true (although I’m sure text messaging will get better), so just do the best you can, which is typically to wear scratchy clothes, park really far away and walk because you don’t have quarters for the meter, and shop or choose tomatoes in the following order:

  • home grown tomatoes
  • farmers market tomatoes (ask them for sweet and juicy)
  • heirloom tomatoes
  • Trader Joe’s Kumatos (a weirdly brown-ish/green tomato from TJ’s that is delicious, and A LOT better than most other tomatoes in stores)
  • cherry or grape tomatoes (any color you like)
  • no tomatoes (i.e., make another salad)

Bottom line: if you can’t find good tomatoes, don’t bother with this recipe.

shopska salad before tossing

Shopska Salad before tossing

Shopska Salad (aka Bulgarian Chopped Salad)

I don’t know what shopska means, but when I ordered them in Bulgaria, I just said “shopska” and got what I wanted.

Serves 4


3-4 medium ripe tomatoes or the equivalent in cherry tomatoes

5-6 persian cucumbers or 1-2 larger cucumbers (peeled if the skin is thick)

2 mild large colorful bell peppers

salt to taste

2-4 tbsp parsley

2-4 oz feta cheese (optional, but recommended)

chopped green, red, or white onion OR chopped green garlic, all optional

olive oil (optional)

vinegar (optional)

chopped salad of cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes
Shopska Salad after tossing


Chop or slice the vegetables into bite-size pieces.

Salt to taste, and toss the salad.

For best flavor, allow the salad to rest at room temperature until serving.

Sprinkle with parsley, olives, onions or green garlic, and crumbled feta (if using).

If desired, drizzle some olive oil and/or vinegar on the salad, although the salad should be juicy enough without them.

Off to TJ’s for tomatoes!

Talk soon, and enjoy the salad!


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2 thoughts on “Shopska Salad Recipe

  1. Fleur

    ok, got no tomatoes, so my chop is: bok choy, romaine, sweet onion, avocado, cucumber, lacto fermented beets, shreded parmesian, pineapple vinegar, and olive oil… Thanks for dinner Roland.

    I miss Galina too.

    1. Roland Denzel

      That sounds really good, and brings up a really good point about chopped salads; use what you got! There are some veggies that aren’t a good fit, but you can almost always find a combo that works!

      We love to make our chopped salad with cilantro and avocado, and Bulgarian is suddenly Mexican. 😉


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