Recipe: Tunisian Grilled Salad with Tuna | Salata Mishwiyya

Usually, the food we grill stays whole. We put it on a bun, or we eat it with our hands. But today’s Tunisian Grilled Salad takes a different approach. The charred vegetables – peppers, onion, tomatoes – are pulsed together into a chunky mixture, then served with flaked tuna, and hard boiled egg.

This salad has body.

Much of the intensity comes off the grill,  from the raw garlic, hot chili peppers, and the caraway seeds, all of which can be tempered to taste.

Please, please, please… let this salad meld for at least an hour before eating.

This will give the bite time to mellow.


Because you wouldn’t want to serve your guests a grouchy salad.

Mellow is much nicer.

Adapted from Clifford A. Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast.

Serves 4-6


3 green bell peppers
3 red chili peppers (like red fresno)
2 tomatoes (or 3 small)
1 onion, peeled and quartered (leave stem on to help hold it together)

3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 tsp salt


Olive oil (several swirls)
Juice of 1 lemon
lemon wedges
handful black olives
1-2 pouches flaked tuna, drained
2-3 hard boiled eggs


Find a sunny spot in Tunisia to set up your grill.

Perhaps like this:

Camels in the desert near Douz in Tunisia. Photo by Moumou82.

Camels in the desert near Douz in Tunisia. Photo by Moumou82.

Or like this:

Landscape in Tozeur–Nefta International Airport (Tunisia). Photo by Gloumouth1.

Landscape in Tozeur–Nefta International Airport (Tunisia). Photo by Gloumouth1.

Next up?

Grill the tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, and onion over medium heat. Remove each vegetable after it is cooked through and charred. The onion will take the longest. The entire process will take somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash together the garlic, caraway seeds, and salt until it forms a paste.

Tip: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you could try crushing the garlic and using half ground caraway and half whole caraway seeds. The garlic might have more bite this way, though, because the pieces will be bigger.

This is how mine looked after a good pound.

Peel and roughly chop all the grilled veggies. Add them to the bowl of a food processor with the garlic mixture (you may want to stir in the garlic mixture to taste; it is extremely potent). Pulse several times until chunky and well mixed.

Add in the garlic mixture and season with salt, to taste.

Refrigerate about an hour before serving.

Squeeze lemon juice over the top, drizzle with a happy stream of olive oil. Pile on the tuna, then garnish with eggs, olives, and lemon wedges.

Serve with pita bread.

I like it best about room temperature, or slightly cooler.

Ava likes it best in a pita cookie.

What about you? Do you find this salad appealing? I think caraway seed is the most polarizing ingredient in here…  Keith sniffed it out immediately. Are you a fan? If not, how would you modify the recipe to suit your tastes?


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  1. Frankly, I think this is the worst recipe you have ever presented…starting from day one.
    Not only is the presentation unappetizing, the combo of ingredients is unappetizing…

    I could see it if the veggies were incorporated with the tuna…but to just open a can of tuna and dump it on top…
    and what do the eggs have to do with anything? Caraway?…I doubt it…

    Anyway….looks desperate…Ava has the right idea…bury it all in a pita pocket…


    • Sasha Martin says:

      I doubt someone from Tunisia would agree. The cookbook this recipe is adapted from earned the James Beard Award for “Cookbook of the Year.” It’s as authentic as it gets and was delicious.

      • So that’s what happened….J B has never been one of my idols OR role models…and therefore I have never checked out any of his recipes, cookbooks or recommended cookbooks…

        Compare Stoddards VS CIA relevant to knife sharpening instructions…[inside joke…sorry, blog fans]

        Love you

        • Kristine says:

          Obviously you have never ever been to Tunisia, this is how the salad is made and it is delicious.. Love the recipe, it is authentic and very very good..

  2. Janet Goodell says:

    My younger son eats a wide variety of food and is fairly open to new things. There are only about 4 things he does not eat. They are mushrooms, tomato chunks, peppers, canned tuna. See what I am up against here? My older son eats only 4 things. Sometimes I tell them I am making something for me not them, so too bad. I will try this for the adventure; that’s what I am here for. There is no doubt, we will all like the samsa, however.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Maybe you could grill up some fresh tuna, instead? More costly, but perhaps he’d like the flavor better? For what it’s worth, I find the pouches SO much tastier than the canned tuna.

      • Janet Goodell says:

        I should have got a pouch. I am allergic to all but canned our pouch tuna. No fresh fish for me. He probably would like that. We live in land-locked Montana so fresh fish is expensive.

  3. aunty eileen says:

    To answer your queston to us Sasha: “What about you? Do you find this salad appealing? Are you a fan? If not, how would you modify the recipe to suit your tastes?” As an American: 1. It does not look appealing to me to even try. Maybe if it were served on some crisp iceburg lettuce, it would look more appealing? 2. it does not look or sound like a “salad” receipe to be eaten as a meal. It looks to be more of a ‘relish’ type receipe. I would definetely eliminate the caraway and garlic… but, it would be interesting to taste it with just a tiny touch of caraway & garlic.

  4. Robin Wrenn says:

    EWE! CARAWAY! Sorry but this is my most hated herb – For me it has ruined so many good foods! LOL! Anyway I agree with the “relish” look of the recipe. I would want to dress it up with something bright red and green, and make a kind of layered pita sandwich – lettuce, Tunisia stuff (without the caraway), tuna and chopped egg and maybe tomato, then drissel of olive oil & lemon juice. But what to do about the caraway, which is probably the key Tunisian ingredient to make this authentic? Mumm – how about thyme? That would go lovely with all the other flavors and the lemon and olive oil and garlic (there is NEVER too much garlic). Actually I think this would be a yummy recipe without the caraway and dressed up pretty in a pita sandwich. Sorry everyone else thought it might look and taste like the cat’s spitup but with a bit of a twist it could be very good (not authentic however, oh well). Love. your blog, so sorry to see it’s going to be over too soon.

    • aunty eileen says:

      Hi Robin: your comment about “garlic” makes me think of a ‘dish’ that was served in Russia that I will call ‘a garlic caserole. Ingredients: garlic, garlic, and garlic haha. I think you would love it ‘maybe’…

      • Roasted Garlic Bulbs (drizzle with olive oil, cover, bake at 350 about 25-30 minutes) is to die for…spread on toast

  5. I actually thought this looks yummy! It seems to be close to another dish with grilled eggplants, and then mashed
    It also seems perfect for a oven free menu these sweltering days!
    Even if we don’t like something, or its unfamiliar, isn’t that the whole point of this exercise to see the
    world through another’s eyes.
    I’m sure that a lot of the world would find some of our American dishes strange and unappetizing as well!

    Keep up the good work! I love to read your posts :)

    • Janet Goodell says:

      I agree. But then, I love garlic and the smell of caraway. I think I might eat around the tuna and let my husband have most of it. The rest, if not chopped too small, should be good.

  6. Trish Morgan says:

    Except for the caraway, this sounds great. What about fennel seed or cumin seed?

  7. Where would a native traveling on a camel through the deserts of Tunisia obtain fresh veggies to roast …

    Dates and nuts and dried fruits must have been staples…

    But then, who travels by camel through deserts anymore..


  8. Even without the caraway (ick!), I couldn’t serve this to my family. Too chopped-up looking. And I don’t eat anything fire-grilled and charred. Sorry – but I do like the idea of almost all of your other recipes.

    • Now that Amber has reminded us to be adventurous and not critical, I am embarrassed by by older post. So I may not like it? – could have kept that to myself. Apologies. I might like it by more lightly roasting the vegies and subbing cumin or ajwain.

  9. I have to disagree with the above comments, I think it looks great. We ate this Salad when we stayed in Tunisia for 2 months in a beautyful rural village and yours looks exactly like the one the local women made. I still remember us sitting outside and grilling the vegetables. Also the canned tuna is an original part of this recipe (I love it too !). Surprisingly there grow many vegetables, we also had a garden from which we ate watermelon, melon, tomatoes, peppers, onions, olives, pomgranate, potatoes and dates. And we lived in the south, i.e. between the desert and the ocean and I was surprised seeing those vegetables and fruits grow so fast in a soil made up from different kinds of sand (desert, beach). In this region they don’t add spices though.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      So glad to hear from you, Sumaya.. so comforted to hear about your experience! And I’m thinking many will be happy to hear the Caraway isn’t required… ha! Hugs from Tulsa :)

  10. I don’t understand the negative comments. It’s a different country with different ideas about salad. I think it looks wonderful.

    • Not being negative per se…expressing personal impressions…maybe the photography needs something or a different platter…
      Readers really care…as in forthright comments…Congratulations, Sash

  11. Janet Goodell says:

    I skipped the tuna as that I bought smelled bad. The flavors were a little strong, BUT and big BUT, I had leftovers tonight. I piled it on a pita squired some lemon and drizzled olive oil on. Wow, was I surprised. It was sooooo good. I had only let it sit and hour or so before trying it last night. Now I know: give it a full day. It is delicious now and I still have a little left for lunch tomorrow.

  12. I think this recipe sounds spot on to authentic Tunisian “Slata”. I don’t undertand the negative comments people are leaving either. Seems they’re trying to Americanize a foreign staple dish… Which seems funny but not uncommon. The “salad” is certainly not like a salad that Americans would eat (greens, cold, with a dressing) and in Tunisia it is always served to be eaten with lots of bread. Us Americans would think of it more as a dip or condiment! (It’s awesome to use with a bit of olive oil in a pan and cooked with eggs (also eaten with bread). LETS BE ADVENTUROUS FRIENDS!

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