Persian Salad or Shirazi Salad, is a simple and bright Persian cucumber and tomato salad that’s loaded with herbs and dressed in citrus and extra virgin olive oil! This quick no-lettuce salad is the perfect side to almost any entrée.
You’ll love how simple it is, yet so bright and packed with flavor! It’s the perfect addition to every Mediterranean menu.
Persian Salad Ingredients
Traditional Shirazi Salad includes: cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions. For seasoning, salt, pepper, and dried mint. And for the citrus, people sometimes use sour grape extract or juice, also called ab-e-ghooreh. This is a slightly different version, my own modern twist with a few additions I think you’ll love!
Here’s what you need to make this version of Persian Salad:
– Tomatoes: Pick tomatoes that are firm but have a little bit of give to them. Although some recipes require you to remove tomato seeds, you do not have to. Tip: If you’re tomatoes are too juicy or extra ripe, once you dice them, throw them in a colander to get rid of excess liquid.
– Cucumbers: Use 1 large English cucumber or 3 to 4 small Persian cucumbers. Tip: Both varieties are seedless, sweeter in taste, and have soft skin so you won’t need to peel them. Do not use slicing cucumbers, which have a thick, waxy skin and can be bitter in flavor.
– Onions: In this recipe, I use about ¼ to ½ a medium-sized red onion. Tip: Try to chop the onions as finely as possible. If you prefer to use shallots, which are less pungent, that will work also.
– Mint: This is what truly distinguishes Salad-e Shirazi. Traditionally, dried, crushed mint is what’s used here. I often use both dry mint and fresh mint, if available. Tip: if dry mint is not available to you, you can use about ½ cup chopped fresh mint.
– Fresh Herbs: I’ve seen Shriazi salads with just mint (dry or fresh), but I’ve also tasted some that include a variety of fresh herbs, which I really like. In this version, I use about 2 tablespoon each parsley, dill, and cilantro. You can use just one of the three herbs or any combination that’s available to you. This is completely optional.
– Seasoning: Aside from a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper, I like to use about 1 teaspoon of sumac. Sumac is beautiful deep red spice which comes from sumac berries. It’s ever so present on the Persian table (and is used in a variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods.) Sumac adds depth and a certain tang that is different from what you’ll find in lemon or lime juice. It’s completely optional, but I highly recommend it.
-Dressing: Shirazi salad, much like many Mediterranean salads, does not require much but citrus and quality extra virgin olive oil.
How to Make Persian (Shirazi) Salad (Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad):
This cucumber and tomato salad is super easy to make. Here are a few tips:
1. Finely Dice The Veggies
For this salad, you need to either small dice or chop cucumbers, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions. Not quite as small as we do with tabouli, but more like Mexican pico de gallo your cucumbers and tomatoes should be around ¼-inch pieces. The chopped veggies will quickly marinate and take on the beautiful herbs and citrus from the lime juice!
It’s best to use ripe tomatoes, but avoid extra ripe tomatoes that may be too soft. And like I mentioned earlier, a good first step, if you’re not seeding your tomatoes (which I do not do) is to place them in a colander to allow them to drain a bit of their juice before combining with the rest of the veggies.
For the cucumbers, it’s best to use seedless cucumbers, English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers, which do not require peeling. If you can’t find either and need to use regular slicing cucumbers, be sure to peel them and remove the seeds.
2. Add in Herbs and Seasoning
The main herb to use here is dry mint. If you can’t find dry mint, use ½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped. I like to use a combination of parsley, dill and parsley in addition (finely chopped as well.) To season a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper, and about 1 teaspoon sumac (optional, but highly recommended.)
3. Dress the Salad & Toss to Combine
No need to make a dressing in a separate bowl here. Just add lime juice and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine.
More Tips & Tricks
– If you like this salad more on the crunchy side, don’t dress it with the lime juice and olive oil until you’re ready to serve.
– For a juicier, bolder salad, go ahead and dress the Shirazi salad, then cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld.
What to Serve with Persian Salad?
This salad is super bright and versatile, I love serving it with all sorts of entrees. It’s great for a simple soup and salad type lunch maybe as a starter to a bowl of warm lentil soup.
- 1 Salad Bowl
- 3 Roma tomatoes small diced
- 1 English cucumber or 4 small Persian cucumbers, small diced
- ¼ to ½ cup finely chopped onions red or yellow onions will work here
- ½ green bell pepper optional, chopped into small pieces
- 2 to 3 tablespoon EACH chopped fresh parsley cilantro, and dill
- 1 tbsp dried mint or ½ cup chopped fresh mint
- Salt and pepper
- Sumac to taste (optional)
- Juice of 2 large limes 4 tbsp
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Place diced tomatoes for a few minutes in a colander to release excess liquid.
- In a large bowl, place the diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers.
- To flavor, add fresh herbs, dried mint, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add sumac (I started with 1 tsp). Finally, add lime juice, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine.
- If you have the time, cover and chill this salad in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour for best taste.