Salad-e Shirazi — Persian Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Named for the ancient Persian city of Shiraz—reknown for it’s connection to wine, poetry and flowers—this simple salad is best at the height of summer when juicy tomatoes and crisp cucumbers abound.  Persian cucumbers are delicate with few seeds.  If your cucumbers have larger seeds, just scoop them out with a spoon and use the remaining flesh.  Peeling is not necessary if you’re using organic fruit—much of the nutritional content is concentrated in the skin and seeds.

Avocado cubes are a nontraditional touch, but their creamy texture and mild flavor partner well with the crunchy cukes and perky onion.

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cubed tomato
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed Persian cucumber
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 handful parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
  • A few leaves of fresh mint, torn (optional)
  • 1/2 small clove garlic, minced (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • Salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small avocado, cut into cubes (optional)

Method:

  • Place tomato, cucumber, onion and herbs in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine.
  • On a cutting board, mash a large pinch of salt into the garlic using the back of a spoon until the two form a paste.  Scrape the garlic paste in a small bowl with one tablespoon oil, one teaspoon lime juice and a few turns from a pepper mill.  Stir to combine, then add to salad and stir.  Taste and add up to another tablespoon of oil and another teaspoon of lime juice to suit your preference.  Add more salt, too, if you think the salad needs it.  Allow the mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes to give the flavors time to develop and blend together.
  • Fold in the avocado just before serving, if using.
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