Salad-e Shirazi – Persian Cucumber, Tomato and Herb Salad

Originating in Shiraz, Iran, this traditional salad finds its way on to every Iranian table at practically every meal. Think of this as a juicier version of a Greek salad, where the herbs dominate. We love adding chunks of feta cheese and even croutons just before serving, but then it is no longer a traditional Iranian salad!

3 to 4 Persian cucumbers (about 3/4 pound)

2 to 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound)

½ C any combination of finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, mint and/or dill

½ red onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

Dressing

¼ C freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes), plus more as needed

½ t sumac*

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional – ½ cup crumbled feta, ½ cup fresh made croutons

Dice cucumbers into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Remove tomato cores, dice remaining tomatoes into 1/4-inch pieces and add to bowl. Add the chopped herbs and onion.

In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together 1/4 cup lime juice, sumac, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Just before serving, dress vegetables and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lime juice as needed. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. Serves 6.


Cool as a Cucumber Chilled Soup

Quick to prepare and ever so cooling in the hot weather, this chilled soup belongs in every refrigerator. If you prefer a soup with more texture, don’t blend it as long. Using unpeeled cucumbers will give the soup a beautiful light green color.

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced (leave unpeeled if using English/burpless/seedless)

¼ C plain yogurt- whole milk, low-fat or Greek

½ C buttermilk – whole milk or low-fat

1 T shallot, minced

1 t garlic, minced

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 t maple syrup

½  t ground cumin, cardamom or coriander

¼ t cayenne pepper (optional)

1 T fresh dill

Chopped fresh dill or chives – for garnish

Lay the cucumber slices on a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towel. Salt the cucumbers and let them “sweat” for 20 minutes to let them release moisture.

In a blender or food processor, process all the ingredients until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Chill at least one hour or overnight. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs. Serves 3-4.


Fattoush Salad

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2 rounds pita bread (8- to 12-inches)

2-3 T olive oil

½ t sumac

Salt and pepper

 

Salad

2 C shredded romaine lettuce

1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded, diced small

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

5-6 radishes, sliced

½ C parsley leaves, chopped

¼ C mint leaves, chopped

5-6 scallions, chopped

 

Dressing

½ C lemon juice

½ C olive oil

1 t sumac

1/8 t cinnamon (optional)

Sea salt to taste

 

 

Toast the pita bread in your toaster oven until dried and crisp but not browned. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Break the pita into pieces and put into the heated oil. Fry briefly until browned, tossing frequently. Remove from the oil and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sumac.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salad ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss lightly. Lastly, add the pita chips and toss one more time. Serves 4-6.

 


Mediterranean Lentil Salad with Black Olives & Mint

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1 C dried French lentils (lePuy) rinsed well and picked over

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 bay leaves

¼ t dried oregano

1 cinnamon stick or ¼ t. ground cinnamon

 

Combine the lentils, garlic, oregano, bay leaf and cinnamon in a saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain the lentils well and discard the whole spices.

 

¼ C olive oil

1 T rice vinegar (can substitute apple cider vinegar)

2 T fresh lemon juice, more to taste

1 t lemon zest

½ t ground cumin

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and salt together. Toss the lentils with this vinaigrette and let stand while preparing vegetables.

 

1 red pepper, diced small

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small

¼ C pitted black olives, sliced in half or quarters (Kalamata or Moroccan)

3 T fresh mint, chopped

½ C (2 ounces)feta cheese, crumbled

 

Add the chopped vegetables to the lentils, stir gently. Adjust seasoning for salt and pepper or fresh lemon juice.


Make Your Own Pickles and More

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We were talking to  gardeners and school educators yesterday and the subject led to what to do with all the wonderful summer veggies coming along now. Here’s a great way your summer bounty is transformed into a tangy, crunchy, flavorful snack or side dish, complete with all kinds of health benefits.

Instead of the more common vinegar preservation, lacto-fermenting produces lactic acid, which not only gives dilly veggies their tang, but also preserves them without canning so that they will keep in cold storage for months with all their enzymes and vitamins intact. Here’s a natural way to get the fantastic benefits of a probiotic into your diet – with great taste and crunch.

2 quarts water
4-6 T good sea salt
1-2# veggies of your choice- young green beans (trimmed), carrots, okra, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, fennel (use firmer veggies if doing a mix) OR all cucumbers (whole, wedges or thickly sliced)
1-2 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 T black peppercorns
2 handfuls of dill (flowering heads preferred, but leaves work well too)

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve sea salt in water to make a brine. Set aside.
  2. Divide the red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, peppercorns, and dill between 2 wide mouth quart-size glass jars.
  3. Place the veggies/cucumbers on top of the seasonings, straight up if they are long and thin or sideways if thicker and cut into chunks.
  4. Cover with brine solution, leaving 1 inch headspace at the top of jar. If necessary, weigh the veggies down with a small jar filled with water, just enough to allow the veggies to be submerged in the brine.
  5. Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
  6. Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure. Taste after 3 days to decide if you like the flavor more fermented, but I find 3-6 days is plenty.
  7. Once the veggies are finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to the refrigerator.

Makes 2 quarts.