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Sharmoula – Libyan Salad

I’m so excited to be sharing one of my favorite Libyan recipes that’s light and healthy! An easy way to explain Sharmoula is like a salsa or finely diced salad made with tomatoes, jalapeño, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, and a tangy olive oil dressing. It’s simple but that’s what makes it stand out.

I used to hate any sort of vegetable as a little kid so I’d take the juice of the salsa at the bottom of the bowl and pour it over my rice to spice my dish up. It’s seriously that good! The secret is that after you dice all your veggies, throw them into a food processor and pulse a few times. The key here is to get it finely chopped so some of the delicious natural juices from the vegetables release. The salad is basically dressing itself in its own juices. All I add to the mix is olive oil, lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, salt, pepper, chopped parsley, and chopped cilantro. Sometimes we make it without cucumber but I like the taste and texture it adds.

You can serve sharmoula with just about any dish but the most famous way to have it is with tons and tons of bread. You can’t let those juices go to waste. In our house, my mom serves it with just about anything from traditional Fasoolya (a white bean stew) to something more modern like tacos. The best way to have it though is pictured above. My father sent this picture from Libya to show us his dinner. Mashwee or barbecued chicken with sharmoula in the middle and loaves on loaves of bread. This took me back to summers in Libya on the beach where all you could hear in the air is laughter and all you could smell is the delicious chicken roasting on top of a coal bed. It was also a tradition to have chicken at Libyan picnics here in Cali. The OC Register described it like this, “The smell of briquettes and seared meat filled the air.”

This recipe is ready in a few minutes but the memories behind it last years and years. Try it for yourself and show me how you eat it – traditional or modern!


  • Depending on how spicy you like it, you can choose to leave out the seeds from the pepper, only keep half, or leave them all in. Honestly, the spice of every jalapeño is different to me so I always taste it before I add it in.
  • If you don’t have red onion, you can easily swap it for white onion or even green onion. I’ve made it with all three before and the taste is not that different.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, just take more time to finely dice all the vegetables into itty bitty pieces.
  • Do not over-pulse the mixture in the food processor. It’s ok to have a bigger vegetable chunk in the mix here and there. Otherwise you’ll risk having a texture similar to apple sauce.
  • Pulse the salad in two or three parts. My food processor pulses everything at the bottom first then gets to the top. By only putting a little at a time, it ensures nothing is over-processed. Consistency!
  • The longer this salad sits, the more flavor it takes on. Sharmoula the next day is on another level.


3 cups diced roma tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced jalapeño
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon distilled white viengar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeño, and red onion until evenly mixed together.
Add half of the vegetables to a food processor, and PULSE 5-8 times until it's finely diced. Take out the pulsed half and put into a bowl. Now pulse the other half. Add it to the bowl too.
In the bowl with the sharmoula, add the chopped parsley, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Serve!

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