This is my go-to salad whenever I’m making a middle eastern spiced meat dish. It serves as a nice refreshment next to the heavier, stronger flavors of something like shawarma. It’s also really easy and can come together in less than 20 minutes. Even dressed, this salad will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, probably since it doesn’t have any lettuce to get all sad and wilted. In fact, I like making it an hour or so before I need it, so that the flavors have a little time to meld.
What is Shirazi Salad?
Shirazi salad is a fresh, bright salad that originated in the city of Shiraz in Iran at the end of the nineteenth century. Traditionally, it consists of tomato, cucumber, onion and herbs, with a simple dressing of olive oil and verjuice. It is a common side dish, often served with meat, but sometimes eaten with rice or on its own.
How to Serve Shirazi Salad
This is an ideal side dish for Middle Eastern dishes, but will also go well with just about any kind of meat. I particularly like to serve it in a wrap like these bulgur lamb and meatball wraps. As a side, this recipe will serve about 6 people.
Additions and Substitutions
Since I don’t generally have verjuice lying around, I usually replace it with lemon juice, which is also commonly used in Shirazi salad. Alternatively, you can use red wine vinegar or lime juice if that’s what you have, or if you think it will go better with your main dish. You can change up the herbs if you want too. Mint, cilantro or dill would probably work well, but I encourage you to experiment!
You can use regular cucumbers instead of the hothouse cucumbers, but keep in mind they have thicker skin and more seeds, so you may want to peel and deseed. I’ve used them before though and not bothered and I thought the salad still came out fine, though I do prefer the hothouse cucumbers. You can also use white or yellow onion instead of the red, or even scallions or shallots.
I often add diced red bell pepper, which makes the salad a little sweeter.
How to Make Shirazi Salad
This recipe is highly adaptable and it doesn’t matter if you want to use a little more cucumber or more tomato, or if you want to cut back on the onion. In fact, I don’t usually bother measuring anything when I make this. Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking.
Dice your cucumber, tomato and onion. The size is really up to you; it won’t make or break the dish. I like cutting the cucumber and tomato into 1/2-inch cubes, and the onion a little finer. I just do a rough chop on the parsley since I don’t mind bigger pieces.
Now all you have to do is mix everything together. Add the cucumber, tomato, onion and parsley to a large bowl, then follow with the olive oil and lemon juice. Add a little salt and pepper, mix well and taste. Season further if desired.
Shirazi Salad (Persian Tomato and Cucumber Salad)
- 1 hothouse (English) cucumber diced
- 3 medium tomatoes diced
- 1/4 large red onion diced
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine cucumber, tomato, red onion and parsley in a large serving bowl.
- Drizzle over olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine, adding salt and pepper to taste.
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