These Turkish sumac onions are the perfect Middle Eastern condiment to pair with kebabs, shawarma, falafel or any type of Middle Eastern meat dish. This recipe for sumac onion salad is also perfect for the mezze platter, and quick and easy to make.Jump to Recipe
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On any given day, I'm always in the mood for anything that has to do with onions... raw onions, grilled onions, caramelized onions etc. If you are at all like me, a serious onion fan, you are going to love this recipe for sumac pickled onions or also known as a red onion salad. I particularly LOVE sumac onions for shawarma.
What are sumac onions? These Middle Eastern pickled onions with sumac, also called Turkish onion salad or Turkish onions, originated in the Middle East, particularly in Turkey. Red onions are quickly pickled with lemon juice, and mixed in with chopped parsley and of course, sumac spice or sumac powder.
The ingredients for onion sumac salad are:
- red onion
- ground sumac
- fresh parsley
- extra virgin olive oil
Let's expound on the ingredient sumac for a moment. Sumac is not a common ingredient in most American pantries. Sumac the spice (not the poisonous plant) is a derived from the berry of a sumac plant, called Rhus Coriaria, that is indigenous to the Middle East. You can read more about it in this article about sumac.
So what does sumac taste like anyway? The sumac taste is tart with hints of citrus flavor and also has an essence of floral. Some describe it similar to a lemon flavor.
Sumac spice pairs well with salads, soups and within rubs for meat.
When it comes to where to buy sumac spice, you can either find it at your local Mediterranean store, or I always recommend buying any spice from The Spice House. I have been more than impressed with every spice that I have from them. They have great quality spices. You can buy sumac spice online through this affiliate link:
Now it's time to make our sumac onion recipe. Technically, these are considered quick pickled sumac onions. Quick pickling onions means that they are just splashed with some sort of acid like lemon juice, lime juice, or a vinegar like red wine vinegar as opposed to being soaked or cooked in vinegar.
With a sharp knife, slice the red onion into quarters, then cut it, or julienne the onion into thin slices. Place the julienned onion into a small mixing bowl and squeeze the lemon over onion, making sure to filter out any seeds. Give the onions a toss and let it sit in the lemon juice for 5-10 minutes.
Marinated onions need to have some sort of acid like lemon juice on them. Using lemon juice should make onions less strong.
Meanwhile carefully wash and dry the parsley. Parsley tends to have sand and dirt in it, so I recommend soaking it for a few minutes, completely submerged in water, then drying it in a salad spinner. Finely chop the parsley.
Drain the onions of most of the lemon juice (you can leave some of it). Add the chopped parsley, sumac, salt and olive oil and toss it until well mixed.
At this point you can cover and refrigerate it for up to 2 days, or it's best to use them right away. They do tend to lose some of their crispness if left for too long.
🍴 Serving suggestions
This recipe for sumac onions is the best condiment for many Arabic meat dishes (think kebabs and other grilled meats), and salads. They are the perfect salad onions for your salad of choice! It is a lovely addition to any charcuterie board or mezze platter, and is even a great topping for hummus or baba ganoush.
Here is a wonderful list the best recipes for how eat sumac onions:
- Lebanese Chicken Shawarma
- Chicken Shawarma Bowls
- Shish Tawook (Lebanese Chicken Kebabs)
- Lebanese Falafel
- Lebanese Fattoush Salad
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Sumac Onions Recipe
- 1 medium red onion
- ⅓ cup parsley
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Thoroughly wash the parsley and set aside to dry
- Thinly slice or julienne the onion and place it in a small mixing bowl
- Finely chop the parsley and add it to the onions along with the spices and juiced lemon
- Toss together then add the olive oil and toss again. Allow it to marinate for 5 minutes before serving