You will be hard-pressed to have a meal in Georgian that doesn’t include the classic tomato and cucumber salad. Home to some of the best tomatoes I’ve ever had, Georgia really celebrates these sweet red orbs with one of the most simple and flavourful salads that exist. A Georgian salad recipe is easy to throw together and makes for the absolute perfect accompaniment to any of the Georgian recipes I’ve written about here; from ojakhuri to khachapuri to satsivi to Megrelian kharcho and more.
And what makes this salad even more versatile is that, like so many dishes in Georgia, there is almost always an option to have it with a delicious walnut dressing! As the adage goes, Georgians will put walnuts in everything except their wine and they certainly don’t stop short of adding walnuts to their salad!
So if you’re looking for the perfect marriage of tomatoes and cucumbers and want to find a great Georgian salad with walnuts recipe, then look no further. This salad makes the perfect side dish for any meal — Georgian or not, and you’re sure to fall in love with the easy walnut dressing!
What is a Georgian Salad?
Georgia isn’t a country that has a lot of salads despite the prevalence of vegetable-based dishes in the country. Things like pkhali and ajapsandali are commonly served on Georgian tables, however, they actually tend to be more in the spotlight than a humble salad. However, you will be hard-pressed to find any meal in Georgia that does not include some version of a tomato and cucumber salad.
At its heart, a Georgian salad consists of very few things: fresh tomatoes and cumbers tossed with a bit of finely sliced red onion and a few herbs – almost always cilantro and often red basil if it happens to be in season. Then, it can either drizzled with a little bit of white wine vinegar and a splash of Kakhetian sunflower oil or tossed in a creamy walnut dressing!
On restaurant menus throughout Georgia, you will likely see two versions and, unless you have some dietary reason why you can’t eat them, I always recommend to go the route with walnuts!
How to Make a Georgian Salad with Walnuts
Making a Georgian salad really couldn’t be easier (I wonder, even, if it merits an entire article, much like my chicken salad recipe. It’s that easy!). The first thing you’re going to need to do is make your walnut dressing. This is similar to the walnut paste that I use in badrijani nigvzit, albeit with none of the spices and a bit looser in consistency.
Start by grinding your walnuts to the consistency of coarse wet sand. You can do this very quickly in a food processor or in a mortar and pestle, like I do. As I’ve mentioned before where ground walnuts are called for, you can even chop them finely, transfer to a zip-top bag and bash them with a mallet or rolling pin. The end result will be the same, no matter how you get there. The food processor is going to be the quickest route, however.
Transfer your ground walnuts to a small bowl and grate in a couple of cloves of garlic. I recommend using a Microplane grater for this, but you can also mince them very finely or even grind your garlic along with the walnuts in the food processor.
Now, all you need to do is drizzle in a bit of white wine vinegar and a few tablespoons of water in order to thin the dressing out. Stir to combine, taste for seasoning and add a bit of salt and pepper to your own specific tastes. Set the dressing aside and now it’s time to assemble your salad!
Start by cutting a few ripe red tomatoes into wedges. I recommend using the best tomatoes you can get your hands on in this salad as they are a key component to a Georgian salad. Make it in season, head to the farmer’s market and get some delicious tomatoes for it. Georgians also don’t typically cut the tomatoes too small, so don’t worry about getting perfect, bite-sized wedges if you’re going for “authenticity.”
Toss the tomatoes into a large bowl and then cut a few cucumbers into bite-sized pieces. Again, you don’t need to cut the cucumbers into teeny tiny pieces here, either. Typically, everything in this salad is fairly large.
Now, finely slice half of a red onion. I slice them pole to pole and I find that the layers separate more easily when I remove the root end by making a “v” shaped notch with my knife. Toss these into the bowl with the tomatoes and cucumbers.
Now, all you need to do is chop a few herbs. I call for cilantro in this recipe as that’s the most consistent herb that you’ll find in a Georgian salad, however, it’s also really common to find red basil in the salad when it’s in season (you can use Thai basil as a substitute, it’s very similar. Genovese basil is a little bit different in flavour, however, it would still be very good!).
Finally, pour your walnut dressing over your tomatoes, cucumber, onions and herbs and toss to combine. Top your salad with a whole green chilli (a Serrano works well here) like they do in Georgia!
Or, if you like the heat, chop it up slightly and toss it in with everything else — it is what I typically do. Serve immediately to avoid everything getting soggy and wilty and enjoy it as the perfect fresh side to any Georgian meal!
- 50g walnut halves, finely ground
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or very finely minced
- 30ml white wine vinegar
- 60ml water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 4 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 1 green chili
- In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, garlic, vinegar and water. Stir to combine until a loose paste is formed, taste to adjust for salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion and cilantro in a large bowl. Pour walnut dressing over and stir until thoroughly combined. Garnish with the chili and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 11mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 4g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Georgian salad with walnuts is one of the most quintessential side dishes to find in Georgia. It’s so easy to make and absolutely delicious and is arguably the best accompaniment to any Georgian recipe!
Are you searching for the perfect Georgian salad recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!