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Olive Walnut Salad with Lena Tashjian

Long ago, high in the mountains and surrounded by olives and walnuts, shepherds often found themselves looking for lunch. From that came Shepard’s Dinner, or so the story goes. This salad is one of Lena Tashjian’s favorites. She showed us how to make her heavily pomegranate infused version. Watch the video below.

Lena’s Olive Walnut Salad Tips

This simple salad has a lot going on. One of the key ingredients is crushed walnuts. But Lena tells our producer not to pulverize the nuts. She doesn’t use a grinder, rather she just puts them in a bag, and hits them with a spoon. She wants small pieces, but not walnut dust.

She combines her walnuts with 1 ½ cups sliced olives, and some chopped parsley.

She says the olives need not be sliced, so long as they’re pitted, they can be chopped up roughly on a cutting board and it will accomplish the same effect.

With her main ingredients added, Lena shows us how to create the dressing. While the recipe calls for tomato paste, Lena often will substitute red pepper paste to get a little kick. She then adds pomegranate molasses. 1 tablespoon will do, but Lena usually adds a little more because she likes the tang.

Lena mixes the salad and sets it aside. “You usually want to make it 15-20 minutes in advance so it has time to sit and for the flavours to combine and round out.” she says.

15 minutes later she plates the salad onto a long serving dish, and sprinkles pomegranate arils on top. “Even when it’s not in season, I like to add the pomegranates. It adds a nice colour, and gives it a nice crunch.”

Prepare and serve cold.


  • 1 ½ cups (360 mL) sliced green olives

  • ½ cup (120 ml) walnuts

  • 4 sprigs parsley

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pomegranate molasses

  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) pomegranate arils to serve


  1. Put ½ (120 mL) cup walnuts in a bag and gently hit with a spoon or mallet to crush them. Do not totally pulverize, just break up into small chunks.

  2. Chop 4 sprigs of parsley finely.

  3. In a large bowl combine 1 ½ cup (360 mL) olives, ½ cup walnuts, the chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) tomato paste, 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pomegranate molasses. Stir to combine.

  4. Let the salad marinate for 15-20 minutes.

  5. Add ⅓ cup (80 mL) pomegranate arils and serve.

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