Salad Shirazi is one of my favourite salads, its simple ingredients of cucumber, tomato and red onions play together so well, they literally shake your tastebuds alive with every tingling mouthful. An invigorating salad, especially on a hot summer’s day. It’s a very colourful salad too, as you can see.
While it bears a strong resemblance to any generic salad and perhaps most certainly to the Turkish Shepherd Salad, Çoban Salatası, what makes it stand out is the fact that its vegetables are chopped up into tiny little cubes, making it resemble a salsa more in appearance.
Needless to say, Salad Shirazi is very easy to make, sure we do chop up the 3 vegetables a little bit more than we usually would but for this particular amount, it shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes to put it all together.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had this salad made by so many different Persian chefs and homecooks and while the basic 3 ingredients stay the same, there have been slight differences in the dressing, the herbs used and the extra one or two vegetables added to the ensemble.
This recipe is mine, one I’ve been making for well over a decade, and what differentiates it from many others is the combination of parsley and fresh coriander (cilantro). I absolutely love the combination of these two herbs and use them together in many of my Middle Eastern and North African recipes. It didn’t take much stretch of the imagination to combine them in this salad too.
This Persian salad makes a delightful and not to mention, vivid, addition to any picnic and barbecue spread. The cool freshness of the cucumbers and tomatoes, the fragrant aroma of the parsley and coriander (cilantro) and the sharp sweetness of the red onions are all brought together by the slightly piquant vinaigrette (dressing), providing a stimulating contrast to whatever comes off your barbie or picnic table. Whether it’s your favourite burger patty just off the barbie, sizzling hot chicken wings or the summer favourite, kebabs, the Salad Shirazi will set it all off perfectly! Non vegetarian or otherwise.
Making the perfect Salad Shirazi
Cut up the vegetables to the same size, as much as you can. Chop the cucumbers to cubes of just over 1cm (half an in), then follow suit with the tomatoes and the onions, as much as possible.
Tomatoes must be firm and not too ripe. We don’t want the salad to be a wet one from the tomato juices, so avoid over ripe tomatoes. Some people even go as far as removing the seeds of the tomatoes but I think that’s not only robbing the salad of flavour but is just wasteful!
Keep it fresh and keep it cold. You can make it earlier but do not mix the vegetables up, cover them tightly with clingfilm and refrigerate until it’s time to serve, then mix everything up, including the dressing.
The dressing can be made ahead, even the night before, but keep it covered, and in the fridge.
Herbs – should be chopped up as late as possible because they will oxidise and lose colour, flavour and aroma.
There you go folks, a very simple salad for the best start to the week, especially if you’re lucky enough to be enjoying some warm weather. Me? We’ve got the typical British summer so far, wet and windy!
I wish you all a wonderful week ahead, whatever you’ve got planned, make it happen!
- half a large cucumber
- 1 large red onion
- 3 medium firm tomatoes
- 1 small handful flat leaf or curly parsley
- 1 small handful coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 2 tbsp EV olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- large pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Chop the cucumbers up into little cubes, no more than half an inch (just over 1cm) big.
- Chop up the onions and tomatoes to the same size.
- Finely chop the parsley and coriander (cilantro).
- Place in a bowl.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together.
- Taste the dressing and add more salt if needed.
- Drizzle the dressing all over the salad and toss (mix) gently, don't mush up the tomatoes.
- Serve immediately.
- On a hot day, place the salad bowl on some ice to keep cool.