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yummy recipes for busy people

Acili Ezme – Spicy Turkish Salsa [Vegan & Gluten free]

Acili Ezme is the healthy, spicy sauce that’s been missing from your life! Filled with veggies this Turkish Salsa is the best dip or sauce, as well as a given on any meze platter – I love mine with bread or as a side for meat. Easy to make with just a knife and a food processer, this sauce will definitely help you stay on track with your healthy lifestyle this year!

side view of acili ezme on a plate with green peppers on the side
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What is Acili Ezme?

Depending on who you ask, they will say that Acili Ezme is either a dip or sauce (me), a meze (my boyfriend) or a salad (random pages on the internet). I’ve also been known to call it a “Turkish Salsa” (a good review in my book since salsa is my all-time favorite food group) and a “gazpacho but as a sauce”.

Made from finely chopped fresh veggies like tomato, peppers and cucumber and seasoned with only salt, spices, olive oil – nothing else – this sauce/dip/meze/salad takes all the flavors of a gazpacho soup and turns it into a dippable, spreadable, devourable (is that a word?) salsa that’s healthy as well as easy to make.

What to serve with Acili Ezme

The classic way to serve Acili Ezme is as part of a meze platter, with bread. But this sauce is way too good to save for those rare times when you make a full meze platter!

In our house, whenever we make a batch of this “Turkish Salsa” we use it for everything. It’s delicious on top of bread in the morning, on top of a salad for lunch and as a side for meat or fish for dinner. Not to mention dipping your tortilla chips in instead of a regular salsa, or even topping your tacos with…

And if we happen to make a batch of hummus as well… well, then we might just have a meze platter for dinner.

Spicy not your thing? Check out all my favorite sauces or go straight to a easy homemade blue cheese sauce, vegan black olive tapenade or whipped Feta cheese.

close up of acili ezme

Why this recipe is so good

  • All the flavor of a gazpacho in an easy-to-eat, top-everything-with, package
  • A versatile sauce/dip/meze/salad that you will come to use for everything
  • Only healthy stuff in there
  • Lots of vitamins
  • Easy to adjust to your level of spicy

How to make Acili Ezme

collages showing how to peel and chop tomatoes

Start by peeling your tomatoes. You can skip this if you want to, but it does make a big difference for the finished product. To peel the tomatoes, use a sharp pairing knife and gently slide it under the skin.

After peeling, remove the hard stem “thing” from the tomatoes, then chop them small.

collages showing how to chop onion, padrón peppers, red bell peppers and cucumber

After the tomatoes, chop the rest of your vegetables: onion, padrón peppers, red bell peppers and cucumber. Make sure to make them as small as possible!

collages showing how to make acili ezme

After the chopping is done, bring out your food processor. Place your chopped onion, padrón peppers and red bell pepper inside and start the food processor. Let it run for about 15 seconds , then stop it and mix with a spoon to make sure you get any veggies stuck on the side into the sauce. Run again for 15 seconds if you think the pieces are too big. Last chance! After this we just want to run it really quick.

collages showing how to add cucumbers to make acili ezme

Now add the cucumber, then run the food processor for a maximum of 10 seconds. Longer, and you risk ending up with soup. Mix with a spoon again.

collages showing how to add tomatoes and spices to make acili ezme

Then add the tomatoes, salt, chili flakes and olive oil.

collages showing the final steps of making acili ezme

Run the food processor again – for no more than 10 seconds, then taste test. Add more chili flakes if needed, and serve!

top view of acili ezme

Expert tips for making this recipe

  1. Don’t skip the chopping. I’ve tried, and believe me – that’s how you end up with gazpacho instead.
  2. Peel your tomatoes for the best result, but skip if you’re lazy or just short on time.
  3. Always remove the hard core of the tomatoes, this one is not negotiable – a little work for a sauce without any annoying hard pieces getting in your mouth.
  4. Taste test and add a little spice at a time, especially if you’re afraid of making it too spicy.
  5. Only run your food processor for 10 seconds at a time after adding cucumbers and tomatoes! Otherwise you will easily end up with yep, gazpacho, again.
  6. If it still does come out too watery pour it in a strainer to get rid off all that excess liquid. Works like a charm!
side view of acili ezme

Substitutions and exclusions

  • Padrón peppers can be switched for more bell pepper (red or another color) instead, and the other way around
  • Yellow onion can be switched for red onion or shallots
side view of acili ezme on a plate with green peppers on the side

Acili Ezme

5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Appetizer, Dip, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine: dairy free, gluten-free, Mediterranean, Turkish, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 as a meze
Calories: 51kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion peeled and chopped very small
  • 2 padrón peppers chopped very small
  • ½ red bell pepper chopped very small
  • ½ cucumber chopped very small
  • 5 tomatoes chopped very small, stem removed, peeling optional
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili flakes*
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Place your chopped onion, chopped padrón peppers and chopped red bell pepper in a food processor and cover. Run the food processor for 15 seconds, then stop it, take off the lid and stir with a spoon. Check if the pieces are small enough (they should be tiny), if not, cover and run the food processor for 15 more seconds.
  • Add the cucumber and run the food processor again for 10 seconds.
  • Mix, then add the tomatoes, salt, chili flakes and olive oil and run the food processor again for 10 seconds. Take off the lid, taste test, and add more chili flakes if you would like it spicier. Then place on a nice plate and serve!

Notes

Expert tips for making this recipe

  1. Don’t skip the chopping. I’ve tried, and believe me – that’s how you end up with gazpacho instead.
  2. Peel your tomatoes for the best result, but skip if you’re lazy or just short on time.
  3. Always remove the hard core of the tomatoes, this one is not negotiable – a little work for a sauce without any annoying hard pieces getting in your mouth.
  4. Taste test and add a little spice at a time, especially if you’re afraid of getting it too spicy.
  5. Only run your food processor for 15 seconds at a time, max! Otherwise you will easily end up with yep, gazpacho, again.
  6. If it still comes out too watery pour it in a strainer to get rid off all that excess liquid. Works like a charm!

Substitutions and exclusions

  • Padrón peppers can be switched for more bell pepper (red or another color) instead, and the other way around
  • Yellow onion can be switched for red onion or shallots
Nutrition Facts
Acili Ezme
Amount Per Serving
Calories 51 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 155mg7%
Potassium 290mg8%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1071IU21%
Vitamin C 45mg55%
Calcium 15mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is approximate and automatically calculated, and should only be viewed as an indication.

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