Salad for Breakfast? Ethiopian Timatim to the Rescue!

Salad for breakfast sounds a little out-there to the average American but let's be real - if you can have leftover pizza for breakfast, why not other non-breakfasty type things? In other parts of the world people are less squeamish about introducing green vegetables into the first meal of the day and we've decided to take a page from their book(s).

While we can't claim we know whether Ethiopians have salad for breakfast, we like this combo of veggies together because it brings just the right amount of salty, sweet, tartness to start off the day. Most Ethiopian salads, called timatim, are made with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and jalapenos, with the rest of the vegetables varying. In our version we tried to pack in some extra leafy green veggies to start the day out strong.

Tips and Variations:

  • Not a fan of mesclun or arugula? Try romaine, spinach, lemon-rubbed kale, dandelion greens or microgreens.

  • Just so you know, mesclun is actually a mix of a variety of leafy vegetables rather than a particular type of green. This spring mix can include arugula, mache, dandelion, radicchio and any number of herbs, among other greens, depending on when and where the mix was put together.

  • We didn't have jalapenos when making this recipe for the video so we decided to swap in crushed red pepper but if you'd rather go more authentic you can add half a diced jalapeno. If you're not a fan of extra spice, go ahead and omit it altogether.

  • Tip about using jalapenos - if you're not used to cooking with jalapenos we suggest covering your hands - either with gloves or with two sandwich bags, then cut pepper in half lengthwise, deseed with a spoon, dice and then add to bowl before rinsing knife and cutting board, disposing of gloves and washing your hands. The reason for this is because newbies to jalapenos frequently get irritated skin from jalapeno juice and, if you're not careful and don't wash your hands very thoroughly, regardless of wearing gloves, you'll inevitably find yourself with stinging eyes or face or other body parts that your hands touched after handling the jalapeno. Don't feel bad - we're in this category too. So, wear gloves - better safe than sorry.

  • Wanna be really authentic? Eat your salad with traditional Ethiopian teff flour bread called injera - it's naturally gluten-free and has a spongy texture and an almost-sour taste that rounds out all the flavors into a nice pop of a meal.

  • Can't eat tomatoes? Swap them out for boiled or roasted and chilled beets!

  • You can substitute the red wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, coconut vinegar or white distilled vinegar. Apple cider vinegar might be a bit too strong for this dish.

  • You can try using fresh basil in this recipe but the flavor will be significantly different. You can also opt to omit the basil altogether.

Recipe: Ethiopian Timatim Salad with Mesclun and Arugula

Course: Salad

Cuisine: Ethiopian

Skill Level: Easy/Beginner

Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2


1/2 cup chopped tomato (1-2 roma tomatoes, 1 small heirloom tomato, or 1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes)

1/2 cup chopped cucumber (about 1 baby cucumber or 1/2 adult cucumber)

1/2 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 small red onion)

3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1/2 Tbsp)

1/2 jalapeno minced or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp dried basil

2 tsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 cup arugula

1 cup mesclun mix


  1. Rinse and chop cucumber (no need to peel) into bite-sized cubes and place in medium-sized mixing bowl.

  2. Peel, rinse and chop onion into small pieces and add to cucumber.

  3. Dice garlic as finely as possible and add to cucumber and onion.

  4. Rinse and chop tomatoes into bite-sized cubes and add to mixing bowl with other ingredients.

  5. If using jalapeno, cover hands, deseed (unless you really wanna burn your tongue first thing in the morning) and finely dice half the pepper, adding the diced pieces to the bowl before washing hands.

  6. Add salt, pepper, and basil to mixing bowl and mix until all vegetables are coated.

  7. Add lemon juice and vinegar to salad mixture. Once well incorporated you can stop here or boost your nutritional content by adding the leafy greens.

  8. You can either toss the tomato salad mixture with the leafy greens or dish the tomato salad mixture over top of the greens on two separate plates to be eaten immediately.

  9. While leftovers can be eaten later on this salad does best when eaten fresh and we don't suggest keeping it in the fridge longer than three days.

Let us know if you challenged yourself to try eating this salad or another for breakfast in the comments below. Did this fill you up until lunch? What did you pair it with or did you eat it alone?

#Salad #VegCurious #Vegan #Vegetarian #GlutenFree #NutFree #PlantBased #Breakfast #Greens #Quick #Tomato #Fresh #SoyFree #EggFree #DairyFree #AllergyFriendly #EthiopianCuisine

Featured Posts
Recent Posts