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.


Tomato Tartlets

Colorful, summery and perfect when you need a little bite.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 C grated Fontina or Swiss cheese (2-3ounces)

3 medium tomatoes, cut into twelve ¼- inch slices

Extra virgin olive oil for brushing

Ground pepper

1/3 C small basil leaves left whole or large and thin sliced

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and roll out the puff pastry to 14×16-inch rectangle. With a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. With a fork, prick each round all over. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese on each, leaving a small border, and top with one tomato slice; brush with oil, season with pepper.

Bake until pastry is deep golden at the edges, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely before garnishing with basil. Makes 12.


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.


Homestyle Chunky Tomato Sauce

Makes 1½ cups

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ large sweet onion or 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 3 cups diced, OR substitute 1-28oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup fresh oregano, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 6) – optional

½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced tomatoes and increase heat to high-medium to bring to a low boil. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until most of the water cooks off. Watch closely, reducing heat if necessary and stirring often. Add sun-dried tomatoes (if using) into a food processor along with a ladle of the tomato sauce. Process until mostly smooth. Stir this mixture back into the tomato sauce in the pot. Stir in the minced basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and optional red pepper flakes to taste. Continue cooking until thickened to your liking and then remove from heat. Serve sauce over a bed of cooked pasta noodles, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles or diced butternut squash.


Soupe au Pistou

This is France’s spring/summer equivalent of Italian Minestrone. Since the list of vegetables is long, just use what you have on hand, including a different bean and/or pasta. As summer vegetables become more prolific, you can use a variety of beans and squash.

1 small onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Vegetables – pick and choose based upon your availability:

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, washed well, and drained

2 small celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into small dice


1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 small tomatoes, chopped or ½ can (15oz) diced tomatoes

3 small red bliss potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 C fresh or frozen green beans, cut into ½ inch piece

1 C fresh or frozen peas

1 can (15oz.) small white beans, such as navy, rinsed and drained

5-6 C vegetable or chicken broth

1 Parmesan rind, about 1 by 3 inches
 (-optional)

¼ cup small pasta, such as elbow, small shells, ditalini or stars (-optional)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pistou – if fresh herbs are not available, top the soup with a bit of fresh lemon zest

1 C lightly packed basil leaves (can substitute parsley or cilantro)

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 C grated parmesan

¼ C olive oil

Soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and golden in spots, about 10 minutes. 


Stir in zucchini, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, broth, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer, covered, just until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove rind. 


Pistou: Pulse together the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and oil in a food processor to a loose paste. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve each bowl with a small dollop of pistou. Serves 6-8.