Arpa Sehriye Salatası: Turkish orzo salad

Turkish orzo salad

Oh yes, salads. We can't do without salad and there has to be one at dinner. Of course, there are classics such as shepherd's salad or our beloved broccoli salad. But Turkish cuisine in particular takes salads to another level. You can see this quite clearly in our orzo salad recipe - our star in Turkish salad heaven!


What is Turkish orzo salad?

You're probably familiar with the small brown grains in Turkish rice. These are usually arpa şehriye, better known as "orzo" or "pasta rice". The small grains are basically noodles, but in the form of rice grains. And yes, in Turkish the salad is also just called "Arpa şehriye Salatasi", i.e. "pasta rice salad". 


In our pasta rice salad, the pasta rice is mixed with numerous crunchy, sweet and sour ingredients and lots of herbs. We are talking about the full program here; pickles, corn, peppers, carrots, lemon. Parsley, spring onions AND dill. Of course, the pomegranate syrup* (the "nar ekşisi") should not be missing from our Turkish orzo salad. After all, what would a Turkish salad be without nar eksisi?


So you can see that the Turkish orzo salad is pretty rich. This makes the salad perfect as a main course and the Turkish orzo salad is especially delicious in summer. In Turkey, it would be customary to serve a salad like the orzo salad at teatime. We haven't done this yet and, as you know, we don't drink cay with sugar. But the idea of washing down the Turkish orzo salad with sweet cay is tempting.


The right ingredients for Turkish orzo salad

If you follow our blog, you'll know that we don't just stop at recipes. Food blogs with stories and information are simply much more exciting (as long as it's not SEO blah-blah, of course).


That's why we'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about the right ingredients for the Turkish orzo salad. We have recently started buying most of our food directly from the producer. And what can we say ... the olive oil in the little plastic bottle without a label is life-changing!


It really smells like olives and adds real flavor to any dish. That's why we would also advise you to use high-quality olive oil for the orzo salad - and in general. We also get our nar eksisi from the producer. 


When looking for nar eksisi, i.e. pomegranate syrup, you need to make sure that it is not "pomegranate sauce". This is a sauce with pomegranate concentrate, sugar and additives, which is often sold as nar eksisi. In our experience, it is not easy to find real nar eksisi* in the West. And even here in Turkey, most supermarkets stock the cheaper sauces.


And the orzo*? Well, we think there are big differences. In Turkey, colorful orzo have recently become popular, which are dyed like colorful noodles with vegetables. In terms of size, we recommend larger pasta rice. However, this is a matter of taste - we find very small ones a little too grainy for the Turkish orzo salad. You can find Arpa Sehriye 100% in Turkish supermarkets as well as in regular supermarkets under "Risoni" or "orzo". 


Ultimately, this Turkish orzo salad is about the combination of the many small orzo, the crunch of gherkins and corn, the many herbs and the sweet and sour note of Nar eksisi and (again) corn. Usually grilled red peppers are used, which you can simply buy in a jar, but we prefer to use fresh red peppers. Of course, you can do this however you like and also vary the quantities.


As for the herbs, the combination of the three herbs parsley, dill and spring onions makes a big difference. We know that some people don't like dill. However, it certainly doesn't play the main role in our Turkish orzo salad - it rounds off the flavor much more.


Afiyet olsun!

Turkish orzo salad recipe

Arpa sehriye salatasi: turkish orzo salad

Ingredients (approx. 3-4 portions)


  • 160 g/ 1 cup orzo*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 300 ml/1,5 cup water
  • 1 red pointed pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 pickled cucumbers
  • 4 tbsp canned corn (or a mini can)
  • 1 handful of parsley
  • the green of a spring onion
  • a few stalks of dill
  • 1 large tablespoon of pomegranate syrup*
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt
  • some dried mint*



Step 1: Heat the olive oil in a pan and brown the orzo over a medium heat. Be careful, because once the pasta rice turns brown, it can quickly turn black. Therefore, keep a constant eye on the heat and toss the orzo. 

Step 2: When the orzo are brown, add water and salt to the pan. Turn the heat down a little and let the orzo cook with the lid closed until the water has evaporated. 

Step 3: While the orzo are cooking, you can prepare the rest. Quarter the pickled cucumbers and cut them into small pieces. Peel and grate the carrot. Cut the bell pepper into small pieces and chop the parsley, spring onion and dill. 

Step 4: Mix the cooked orzo with all the ingredients and season the Turkish orzo salad with salt if necessary.

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