Shirazi salad hails from the city of Shiraz in southwestern Iran. This classic yet simple tomato, cucumber, and onion salad, no lettuce, looks much like the Greek Horiatiki salad or the Turkish salad made with walnuts. Each of these Mediterranean salads are bright, crunchy, and juicy and are the perfect side to go with any entree!
I chose to use multicolored cherry tomatoes for the Shirazi salad. I find that they have more flavor especially at this time of the year. I also like the color that they add to the bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half or a quarter if they are too large. The idea of this salad is to dice all ingredients. Use either small almost seedless mini cucumbers or an English cucumber. It is not necessary to peel these cucumbers because the skin is usually thin. If they have seeds remove them and then dice the cucumber.
The red onion should also be diced. This salad adds an additional twist by incorporating juicy fresh pomegranate seeds, or arils, which add a tart juiciness to the salad dressing. The salad dressing is a simple combination of lemon or lime juice combined with olive oil. The nectar from the pomegranates mixes with the citrus and olive oil and creates a fresh light dressing for the tomatoes and cucumbers. In fact, you may be fighting with friends to see who gets to drink the leftover dressing!
The sumac adds a bright citrus flavor. Dried or fresh mint is optional but is typically used in this traditional Iranian salad. I have also seen some versions that incorporate parsley, dill and cilantro.
The Shirazi salad is best when served chilled. You can make it ahead with the dressing to allow the flavors to infuse and the juices from the vegetables, the citrus, and the pom to mingle. Try serving it with my lentil loaf for a savory vegetarian meal.