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.


Mediterranean Sweet Pepper Salad

Adapted from David Tanis’ cookbook, “A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes”, this dish bursts with color and flavor of summer. A great way to use up a bumper crop of sweet peppers. The peppers store very well in the fridge for up to a week and the flavors improve after a day. Great as a side or as a topping for grilled chicken, pork or fish. Chop the peppers into dice and toss with pasta. Great to use tossed with leftover grilled veggies.

3 large sweet peppers- red, yellow and orange
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T capers
¼ C black olives, pitted and quartered (preferably Kalamata or Nicoise)
1 t red wine vinegar

1 t lemon zest
¼ C good quality olive oil (extra virgin)
2 T fresh basil and/or oregano, chopped or thinly sliced

Place the peppers directly on the burner of a gas grill or on the rack of a hot charcoal grill. As each section turns puffy and black, turn the peppers with tongs to char evenly. (If you don’t have a grill, place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil in the oven, turning as each side becomes charred.) Transfer the roasted peppers to a plastic bag and close the bag, letting them cool down in their own steam. When they are cool enough to handle, halve peppers crosswise and remove stems, ribs and seeds, and remove any charred skin. (This can also be done at the sink, under running water.) Slice the peppers in 1-inch thick strips and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except for the fresh basil and/or oregano, and toss well. Taste and adjust for salt, perhaps more red wine vinegar if you prefer a more tart flavor. Let salad marinate at room temperature until ready to serve. Garnish with basil just before serving. Serves 4-6.


Fiesta Green Bean Salad

1lb fresh green beans, strings removed, ends snapped off, cut into about 1½-inch length pieces

¼ C red onion, finely chopped

2 T fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)

2 T olive oil

½ t sea salt

1 t dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano

¾ C packed, chopped cilantro

1 jalapeno, minced, or 1/3 C pickled jalapeño chili peppers, sliced (optional)

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges, or a cup of halved cherry tomatoes

¾ cup cooked corn kernels, from one large ear

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

1 ripe avocado, sliced or cut into chunks

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the beans and simmer until just crisp tender, 7 minutes. Drain the beans and run cold water over them to cool them quickly. Drain completely; pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a large serving bowl.

In a mini-food processor or in a jar, combine lime juice, olive oil, 1/4 cup onion, sliced pickled jalapeños, sea salt, oregano and cilantro. Process until well mixed, then pour over beans and toss; refrigerate about half an hour. When ready to serve, mix in the chopped red onion, tomatoes, corn and feta. Carefully fold in the avocado chunks. Serves 6.


Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Herbs and Ricotta

Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)

2 T lemon juice

2 t fresh rosemary, minced

1 t honey

½ t sea salt

½ C whole milk ricotta

2 t lemon zest

2 T extra virgin olive oil

¼ t sea salt

¼ C pistachios, chopped

1 T sesame seeds

Garnish – ½ – 1 C lightly packed fresh herbs, chopped (mint, chives, parsley)

Thinly slice the zucchini (use a hand-held slicer or a mandolin if you have one) and transfer to a bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, rosemary, honey and salt and add to the sliced zucchini; toss well and let stand 15-30 minutes. Left longer, the slices will turn limp and continue to release moisture, which changes the texture of the salad and can dilute flavors.

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta with the lemon zest, olive oil and salt. Set aside.

In a small skillet (or in a toaster oven), combine the pistachios and sesame seeds and toast, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Transfer the zucchini to a platter, add half the fresh herbs and mix gently. Dollop the ricotta mixture on top. Scatter with the pistachio-sesame mixture and the remaining fresh herbs. Drizzle with additional oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serves 4.


Butter Lettuce with Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas and Radishes and Honey Herb Vinaigrette

The sweet crunch of sugar snap peas and tender English peas and peppery radish slices are brought to light with a delicately sweet vinaigrette. Chill and pat the peas dry before adding them to the salad- it gives the best flavor and texture.

1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

8oz fresh English peas, or 1 C frozen peas, thawed

8oz sugar snap peas, strings removed

6 medium radishes, thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

For garnish – 2 T coarsely chopped dill, tarragon, basil, chives and/or parsley

(Optional- 2oz. crumbled feta or ricotta salata, shaved with a vegetable peeler)

Honey Herb Vinaigrette

1/3 C fresh herbs- dill, tarragon, basil, chives or parsley (can substitute with 1 T dried), finely chopped

1 T white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ t lemon zest

1 t honey

1 t Dijon mustard

¼ – ½ C extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette: Put all the dressing ingredients except the olive oil, in a small jar and shake to combine. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and shake well. Taste and adjust for salt and more olive oil, if desired. (If you have a mini food processor, use that and process until emulsified). Set aside.

For the salad: If using fresh peas, sample them. If they are young, sweet, and tender, keep them raw. If they are older and a bit tough, blanch them in small pot of boiling water until they are tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the sugar snap peas and blanch until crisp-tender, one to 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Combine the lettuce, scallions and radishes in a salad bowl, and toss to combine, taking care to separate the radish slices. Pat dry the English peas and sugar snap peas with a clean dish towel if they are very wet, and add them. Dress lightly and toss the salad gently (you may not need all the dressing); garnish with your roughly chopped herbs of choice. Serves 4.