I've long been a fan of Iranian food. From wonderful sour stews, complex pilafs and crunchy rice dishes to simple and healthy salads. This Shirazi salad, named after the Southern region of Iran, where it originated is a simple and healthy gem. A fantastic salad to have on hand to accompany and enhance an array of other flavours.
A simple Shirazi salad
The Persian Shirazi salad sits at most dinner tables in Iran as it is a very versatile dish that compliments most other offerings perfectly. As a salad, it's a burst of freshness to accompany richer foods like the Persian sour stew Fesenjān or a herbaceous hit of flavour from Gormeh Sabzi for example. There are essentially only three ingredients: tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Couldn't be simpler right?
Every Shirazi salad I've had in Persian restaurants serve it the same way. Each vegetable is carefully diced into tiny pieces - it may challenge your knife skills, but trust me, it's worth it - each mouthful is a perfect blend of vegetables. For this dish, I always make the effort to chop my veg nice and small, and I always peel my tomatoes too. Normally, this is a job I despise, but it really does make a difference to the final texture.
MY TOMATO PEELING TIP: I like a slightly under ripe Roma tomato for this recipe. A tomato that has a firmness. That way, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. I REALLY hate scoring and blanching tomatoes to remove the skin - I don't care how simple it may appear. It never is - get a vegetable peeler and you'll be done in no time! A firmer tomato will also give a nice texture to the salad.
Should I use dried or fresh herbs to dress a Shirazi salad?
The authentic shirazi salad recipe always uses dried herbs to dress the salad. Traditionally, dried mint or dried dill is used. Fresh herbs will change the flavour too much, so I do suggest using the dried option. It's one of the only recipes where I'll used dried instead of fresh.
A sweet, fruity Verjuice dressing
For the authentic Iranian flavour in the dressing, verjus/verjuice is used. Verjuice is a product of grapes or sour fruits made into a light acidic liquid. Part way a vinegar, but lighter and fruity. It's not widely available, and I don't always have it, so my recipe creates a similar sweetness by using lime juice, white wine vinegar and sugar. If you do have verjuice, simply mix it with olive oil for the dressing. Both versions are delicious!
What should Serve with Shirazi Salad?
I love shirazi salad served in Middle Eastern style meze offering. Lots of small dishes that I can pick and mix. All the flavours work together in perfect harmony and you can make interesting flavour, texture and colour combinations of your own. This salad is so simple, ready in 10 minutes so not too taxing to include as part of a larger feast. Try some of these delicious Middle Eastern inspired dishes that will work perfectly with my Persian Shirazi Salad:
How to make my Shirazi Salad