Mechouia salad is a Tunisian grilled salad that is made with tomatoes, roasted red peppers, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. It’s simple to make, and it’s perfect for summertime grilling! Serve this salad as a side dish or appetizer at your next summer gathering! Enjoy!
This particular salad is a heartwarming dish that you can serve as a side dish, the main course, and a bowl of couscous or plain white rice. With a beautiful palette of colors, this North African merger of spices and vegetables is a perfect choice when you are hosting or when you simply feel like making a delicious easy dish that looks good on the table.
Why I love Mechouia Salad
Mechouia salad is famous in Lybia, Algeria, Morocco, and neighboring countries. Mechouia is a Tunisian word that means roasted or grilled.
Grilled vegetables are the main ingredients in this recipe. The addition can see the French shallots’ influence, which makes the Mechouia dish more authentic. In some recipes, the tomatoes were charred to give them a smoky flavor. Today, you can find tomatoes already roasted to save time.
In Tunisia, this grilled vegetable dish is often served as a side dish or as a main course with couscous, but it can also be used as an appetizer/meze before dinner. It consists of simple and inexpensive ingredients that can be easy to find in your local grocery stores: tomato, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and fresh cilantro.
Bell Pepper: The use of bell pepper in this meal is key to adding lots of flavor and color to this dish. Depending on your preference, you can use the traditional green pepper or red, orange or yellow. You can also make this recipe with a single color pepper if you like.
Eggplant: The addition of eggplant is optional, and it brings texture and taste to make the dish moist and tasty. Not everyone likes its bitter aftertaste, so you don’t have to add it if your friends or family are picky eaters.
Olive Oil: Olive oil is the preferred choice of cooking oil in North Africa. It is readily available and cheap to buy locally. You can use vegetable or peanut oil if you prefer, but it won’t give you that authentic Mediterranean taste that olive oil will.
Garlic cloves: Use a mortar to crush the garlic cloves and pestle to spread their flavor in the meal. You can optionally skip the garlic if you are making this recipe for kids, or it will also work to use garlic powder instead of crushing fresh cloves.
Onion: Onion is another crucial ingredient that gives the salad that extra kick! Finely chop the onion before mixing it with the rest of the vegetables.
Tomatoes: Use fresh plum tomatoes that are not too juicy. If they are too juicy, you can remove the seeds before mixing them into the salad. If you prefer to keep the watery taste of your tomato, I would recommend chopping them into larger pieces instead of fine dice so that it is easy to bite through and enjoy this dish.
Shallot: Shallots are used in this recipe for their scent and taste. The shallot is a part of the onion family, but it has a more robust flavor than an onion. You can add more onions if you do not have any shallots at hand.
Chili: Tunisian cuisine is not very spicy, and Tunisians eat chili pepper in small quantities with their meals. This is why I add a small amount of chili to our dishes, and it is optional in this recipe. If you like the taste of chili, feel free to add more than just one!
Cilantro: Cilantro is widely used in North Africa for its taste and scent. It leaves a refreshing aftertaste to this meal, and it also gives this dish a lovely green color. It is optional, and you can add parsley instead if you don’t like cilantro or can’t find any in your local grocery store.
Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice is an essential ingredient that brings out the flavors in this recipe. It gives a fresh, tangy taste to your Mechouia dish.
Salt and Pepper: To bring out the flavors of this dish, you will need to add some salt and pepper before serving on the table. Depending on your preference, you can use any kind of salt or pepper.
Wash the vegetables well before you start to prepare this dish. You can either grill or roast all of your ingredients, but grilling gives a better flavor to the food because it caramelizes the natural sugars in all of the ingredients. Use an open flame on high heat to grill and regularly turn until cooked.
For roasting, preheat the oven to 420°F / 220°C. Put your tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and onion into a baking tray and pour over with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Take them out of the oven after 30 minutes.
Chop all of your cooked vegetables into fine dice or thin slices before mixing them well. Add chili, cilantro, and lemon juice before serving on a table with pita bread. Enjoy!
- If you prefer a non-spicy version of this dish, simply omit the chili in your Roasted Vegetable Mechouia salad.
- This recipe makes enough to serve an average family, but feel free to double or halve the serving size depending on how many mouths you plan to feed!
- If your Mechouia is too dry, feel free to add more olive oil before serving.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, use certified gluten-free food products where possible. You can also use regular wheat bread for dipping instead of pita bread.
There are several delicious variations to this dish, depending on where in North Africa you are visiting!
Moroccan Chickpea Mechouia: Add 1 cup of cooked chickpeas to your roasted vegetables before serving. If you want a creamy taste, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegan mayo before mixing everything well. You can add 1-2 teaspoons of ground cumin or cayenne pepper to the mix if you want a more spicy flavor.
Omani Mechouia: In Oman, they add grilled fish and lemon juice to their roasted vegetables before serving. If you have any leftover grilled fish from dinner, feel free to chop it up into small pieces and add them with the lemon juice to your dish!
Algerian Mechouia: They add carrots and potatoes into their Mechouia salad in Algeria. You can chop 1/2 a potato and 1/2 a carrot up before adding them with the other vegetables before roasting. They also mix in 2 tablespoons of harissa paste for a spicy kick.
Tunisian Mechouia: In Tunisia, they make their Mechouia salad with green bell peppers instead of red or yellow ones. They also add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar to sweeten things up!
You will often see tuna or boiled eggs added to Mechouia salads in different parts of North Africa. If you like tuna, feel free to add a can of tuna to your recipe and mix everything well before serving.
If you want eggs added to your roasted vegetables, hard boil two eggs and chop them up before serving.
How to store Mechouia
This dish is excellent to make a few hours in advance and eat throughout the day. Simply store your finished Mechouia salad in an air-tight container in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
If you want to store this dish for leftovers, chop up all of your ingredients before serving on the table. Store them separately to ensure that the vegetables do not soak up the excess liquid from the salad. Keep all of your ingredients in an air-tight container to keep them fresh for later.
I recommend you to use the leftovers within two days of storing them, but if there are any vegetables left after this time, feel free to chop them up and mix them into a fried rice or pasta dish!
Add Mechouia to a sandwich with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and vegan mayo for a delicious vegetarian sandwich for a quick and easy lunch. If you prefer fish in your sandwiches, add tuna or leftover grilled fish from dinner before wrapping everything up!
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out all of my North African recipes here! Please let me know how your Mechouia turned out in the comments below!
TUNISIAN GRILLED SALAD (MECHOUIA SALAD)
- 2 ¼ pounds Bell pepper
- 2 Large plum tomatoes
- ½ Eggplant optional
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil divided
- 1 Sweet pepper
- 1 Chili pepper
- 1 Medium onion
- 2 cloves Garlic
- ½ Lemon juiced
- A dash of salt and pepper, to taste
- Chop the vegetables roughly.
- Oil a grill and grill bell pepper, tomatoes, and eggplant. If a grill is not available, use a heavy nonstick pan and grill the vegetable stovetop, not in the oven.
- Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the grilled vegetables.
- Mash the sweet pepper, chili pepper, onion, and garlic together, then add the grilled eggplant and mash.
- On a separate plate, mash the tomatoes.
- Add the mashed tomatoes to the bowl with the other mashed vegetables and mix.
- Add the spices, olive oil, and lemon juice.
- Garnish with olives and capers and serve hot.