Try your hand at this sensational recipe for ezme for an easy-to-make and versatile condiment. Think of this as a Turkish salsa, easily slathered on anything or scooped up with pita chips. Bursting with the robust flavors of roasted peppers and tomatoes, this Turkish treasure is sure to rock your world.
I am so excited to introduce you to today’s recipe for Turkish salsa. Also known as Turkish ezme or acili ezme, this fabulous recipe delivers a potent dose of smoky, spicy-sweet, and earthy flavors.
We start by charring the tomatoes and peppers to perfection before hand smashing them with the vibrant flavors of homemade red pepper paste, freshly chopped parsley, sweet onions, and sassy sumac.
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If that isn’t tempting enough, the whole dish gets a drizzle of divinely delicious pomegranate molasses and delicate olive oil. Turkish ezme is nothing short of a masterpiece!
- Tomatoes – Since they make up the bulk of the ezme, it is important to choose the highest quality, ripest tomatoes you can find. I like Roma tomatoes for their meaty texture, low moisture content, and balanced flavor but any variety will work.
- Green Peppers – The traditional choice is either the Turkish red pepper, kapya biber, or the Turkish green pepper, sivri biber. However, these varieties can be difficult to find in the United States. Good alternatives include Anaheim chiles, California chiles, or any other mild green chile pepper. Regular red or green bell peppers are also great options.
- Onions – Yellow onions add the perfect touch of mildly sweet, pungent earthiness. Red onions or white onions can be substituted but will be a bit snappier.
- Flat Leaf Parsley – Adds a clean, fresh, peppery flavor and a deep forest green. You can use finely chopped curly parsley in a pinch, but I highly recommend sticking with flat-leaf for the most robust flavor and best texture.
- Turkish Pepper Paste – This flavorful red pepper paste is sweet, savory, and smoky. Try this DIY version or look for a version in the international aisle or local market. You can also substitute tomato paste if needed.
- Sumac – This beautifully bright and tangy herb adds floral notes with a hint of citrus.
- Pomegranate Molasses – Brings together the vibrant tartness of pomegranate with a deep, smoky caramel-like sweetness. Look for it in the international foods aisle at the supermarket.
- Grill. Preheat your grill to high, around 450 degrees F, and ensure that it is clean and oiled. Spread out the whole tomatoes and peppers onto the grates and cook both sides until nice and charred, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside, covered with a kitchen towel for about 5 minutes. Allow the steam to soften the skins before peeling and discarding them.
- OR Broil. If you don’t have a grill, set your oven to broil and spread the tomatoes and peppers out onto a baking sheet. Cook under the broiler for 6-8 minutes, or until a nice char develops. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cover the veggies with a towel to steam and soften the skins. Wait 5 minutes, then remove and discard the skins.
- Combine Ingredients. Once grilled or broiled, combine the roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers, onion, parsley, red pepper paste, sumac, and salt on a large platter or large, slightly rimmed plate.
- Mash & Chop. Use a metal cup or biscuit cutter to begin mashing and chopping the vegetables into small pieces. Continue to mash, twist, and chop for about 2 minutes, moving the plate as you work. Resist the urge to use a food processor, you do not want mushy, over pureed Ezme! This step only takes a few minutes and makes the recipe far more authentic.
- Add Dressing. Once you process the salsa to your desired consistency, dress it with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and olive oil.
- Season & Serve. Season with more salt or other spices to suit your tastes and then serve as part of a mezze platter, alongside kabobs, or with pita chips and sliced veggies for dipping.
Chop This by Hand, Trust Me!
Using a food processor may sound like an easy way to do this, but you want small pieces, not a pureed mashed soup. Mashing and chopping using the biscuit cutter method only takes 2 minutes and turns out perfect!
Ezme translates to crushed in English and is basically Turkish salsa. This flavorful combination of roasted tomatoes, peppers, onions, spices, herbs, pomegranate molasses and olive oil, all hand crushed together, is a popular and beloved condiment in Turkish cuisine.
Depending on the rest of the meal, ezme can serve as a salad, side dish, dip, spread, and all-around condiment. There are also some small variations of the recipe. For example, this ezme recipe is for acili ezme, a spicy version.
Turkish ezme is a super versatile condiment. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
– As part of a mezze platter, enjoy ezme with Pita Bread, veggies, and other dips like Mutabal, Skordalia, and Hummus.
– Serve with Koobideh Kabob, Shashlik, or any of your favorite kabobs.
– Pair with other side dishes like Lebanese Rice Pilaf or Egyptian Rice and Vermicelli.
Yes, you can make Turkish salsa 2-3 days ahead of time. In fact, giving your ezme a little time to marinate will make it that much tastier! Simply cover and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
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Acili Ezme Recipe (Turkish Salsa)
- Grill Method: Set grill to High (450°F). Oil grill basket or grill pan and spread whole tomatoes and peppers on grates. Grill until charred, turning to get both sides (5 to 10 minutes total depending on size). Remove from oven, cover with kitchen towel and let steam for 5 minutes. Peel and discard the skins.
- Broiler Method: Place tomatoes and peppers on a baking sheet. Place baking tray under broiler and cook for 6-8 minutes until charred. Remove from oven, cover with kitchen towel and let steam for 5 minutes. Peel and discard the skins.
- Add the roasted tomatoes, peppers, onion, parsley, red pepper paste, sumac, and salt to a slightly rimmed, large plate or platter and start to mash and chop with a biscuit cutter or metal cup. Chop, twist and chop, scooping and moving the plate while the ingredients are pushed to the center of the plate. (See Note 2)
- Once desired consistency is reached, drizzle pomegranate molasses and olive oil on top.
- Season to taste and serve alongside kabobs, with vegetables to dip, toasted pita chips or on a mezze platter.
- Typically Turkish kapya (red) biber and Sivri (green) biber are not readily available here in the U.S., but any mild green chile like Anaheim chiles, California chiles or green and red bell peppers can be substituted.
- Using a food processor may sound like an easy way to do this, but you want small pieces, not a pureed mashed soup. Mashing and chopping using the biscuit cutter method only takes 2 minutes and turns out perfect! Besides doing it on a rimmed serving dish helps keep all the juices in one place and not all over your counter.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.