This Shirazi Salad might appear like a simple cucumber and tomato salad, but this classic Persian salad is full of flavor and makes a colorful and healthy side dish to any meal.
Not all salads are created equal. I admit that there are times that I really do not want to eat healthy. And when you are a parent, you do your best to model good eating habits. For our family, that means a salad is served with our evening dinner.
Our salads can be simple leafy concoctions to adding more color by including seasonal ingredients. But one salad that the whole family loves is this easy Persian salad, Shirazi salad.
Why this recipe is so great
Many people equate the simple tomato cucumber salad with the Greek version. Considering that all of these mediterranean and middle eastern countries are easily influencing each other’s cultures and menus, there are many similarities.
The Shirazi salad is made with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. It is mixed with fresh parsley, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Very easy and simple, but really quite delicious.
Some people like to finely chop the ingredients, while others like it chunkier. Some people like to use mint, but it is more commonly mixed with parsley. I prefer to use fresh parsley, but you can use dried, as well.
When the kids were little, they didn’t like the bite of the onions, but now that they are older, they love it.
As I said before, there are modifications to this salad around the world. Greeks add feta to their salad. Indians sometimes add chili peppers to their salad, while Turkish cuisine includes long green peppers in theirs.
Here in California, I sometimes add chunks of avocado. And it also delicious with cooked quinoa mixed in.
Ingredients you need
- Persian cucumbers: Our first choice in cucumbers is to use the Persian varieties. They are crispier than the regular variety and aren’t riddled with seeds or watery. The skin is also thinner and edible. You can also English cucumbers.
- Tomatoes: Any variety of tomatoes can be used in this salad. Just make sure they are tasty and flavorful. I have used big heirloom tomatoes and even small grape or cherry varieties.
- Red onion: When it comes to eating raw onions, we prefer red onions. But you can use any variety of onion or omit it if you do not like onions.
- Parsley: I typically use fresh parsley – the American curly or Italian flat leaf variety both work. Some people add fresh mint. You can also use dried parsley and/or mint.
- Extra virgin olive oil: The base of the salad dressing is made with extra virgin olive oil. Be sure to use an oil that is not rancid, so taste it by itself. You can use a mild or robust oil, depending on personal preference.
- Lemon juice: You use bottled lemon juice or freshly squeezed.
- Salt and pepper
1. Chop vegetables and herbs and put in a serving bowl. You can chop them as chunky or as fine as you prefer.
2. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
3. Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
Recipe tips and FAQs
We love this salad with Persian kabob or any main dish like roast chicken or even a smoked prime rib roast. We eat it all year round. And when you have sweet summer tomatoes, let the rainbow shine and make a real colorful salad.
It even makes a wonderful appetizer. Serve your salad Shirazi with pita bread or lavash. We even serve it with potato chips, a great scooping vessel for salad!
Here are some other variations I like to make for this classic cucumber tomato salad:
- When I have avocados on hand, I sometimes mix that in, too. Okay, this makes it more California than Iran, but it is a fabulous addition.
- To make a heartier salad, mix in 1 to 1 ½ cups of cooked quinoa. The quinoa soaks up the dressing, so you will need to add more oil and lemon juice if you do mix in quinoa.
- To make a light meal, mix in some cooked chicken breast or grilled shrimp.
- This salad also makes a great garnish for chicken or fish tacos. If you do this, you can swap out the parsley for cilantro.
Shirazi salad is a classic Persian salad made of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Fresh herbs like parsley and/or mint is also used. The dressing is a simple lemon juice and olive oil combination seasoned with salt and pepper. Simple, yet delicious!
Shirazi salad is best enjoyed the same day you prepare it. You can make it a few hours before serving it, just keep it covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Leftovers can be stored and refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 2 days, although it can turn soggy from the dressing. Persian cucumbers will remain crisp in this salad after a couple of days.
- 4 Persian cucumbers
- 3 medium tomatoes
- ¼ cup red onion
- 3 TBS chopped parsley
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Chop vegetables and put in a serving bowl.
- Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Pour salad dressing and mix it evenly into the salad and serve.
For more variations try these options:
Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 97Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 55mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
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