I love the fresh flavours of the middle east. It was probably about two years ago that I had a sudden, intense craving for fattoush and cooked (/prepared) Felicity Cloake’s Perfect iteration of the middle eastern mainstay. I’ve proceeded to prepare a vague version of fattoush at almost every opportunity since.. that is, until I discovered the Shirazi salad while rereading Sabrina Ghayour’s brilliant Persiana. Seeing the fairly simple salad, I prepared it at the next available opportunity and haven’t looked back since.
Similar to fattoush, this is a sharply dressed salad with citrus and sumac. The vegetables involved are tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and pomegranate seeds, There’s no pitta, but I often prefer to have bread on the side of fattoush anyway, (ready to plunge into whatever dips are available). What makes this salad really perfect is the preparation. The vegetables are chopped into little dice, I aim for a vague pomegranate seed size so that all the little dice are fairly uniform. Unlike a fattoush that can get a bit sad when left, I can leave the chopped Shirazi salad in the fridge ready to dress at the last minute. A drizzle of olive oil to bring it all together, juice of a lemon and a generous sprinkle of sumac. That is it.
I know, this may seem like overzealous compliments, but shirazi really is a fantastic salad. Without any leaves, I find that I can chop the components of this salad days in advance and it stays crisp for lunches. Without any big pieces to contend with, it can easily be eaten with just a fork (or spoon) at your desk, better still with some leftover protein. For the same reason, it’s easy to add to a pitta or wrap. Although it does contain sumac, you could probably just manage with lemon juice if push came to shove, you’re just looking for that bright, sharp taste. I’ve also left out the pomegranate when the supermarket is out of stock.
Despite being Iranian, I find a good shirazi salad is simple enough that it can accompany a meal in a range of different cuisines, wherever a green salad is called for.