Saturday, July 27, 2013

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad or Salad Shirazi (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan)

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad (Salad Shirazi)
This traditional tomato salad from the middle east is something I look forward to every summer.

(Updated with new photos and step-by-step instructions, July 2013.  My friend Massoud is coming to visit me again in a few weeks, so I thought that was a good reason to update this recipe with better photos!)

This salad that's made all over the middle east is one of my very favorite ways to eat tomatoes when they're fresh and sun-ripened, and if I ever was forced to choose my top ten favorite ways to eat tomatoes, this salad would absolutely be on that list.  It's actually very good made with Roma tomatoes since they have less seeds and the flesh is firm, but you can make it with any type of tomatoes that have good flavor. I learned to make the salad years ago from my friend Massoud, who came to the United States from Iran, and this combination of salad ingredients is so traditional that it's just called "salad" there. In the U.S. you might see it on a restaurant menu called Salad Shirazi. You can vary the proportions based on your own taste or what you have in the garden, but don't skimp on the mint and parsley, which is what makes this so special.

Dice up one generous cup of garden fresh cucumber.  (You can salt the cucumber and let it drain in a colander, but these days I often skip that step.)

Dice an equal amount of garden-fresh tomatoes.  (If the tomatoes are extra juicy, you can drain them in a colander for a few minutes.)

If I have sweet onion, I'd use equal amounts to the cucumbers and tomatoes.  This time I only had regular yellow onion, so I used a bit less.  You can soak the onion in cold water for a few minutes if you're not a fan of raw onion, but please don't leave it out.

You'll also need a cup of finely chopped fresh parsley.  (I like curly parsley in this, but either one will work.)

I picked the mint from my windowsill herb garden, so I gave it a good wash in the salad spinner.

And then finely chopped the mint as well.  (You can chop the herbs in a food processor if you prefer, but I just used a big chef's knife.

Mix the tomato, cucumber, onion, parsley, and mint in a non-metal bowl.

Then mix in olive oil and lemon juice, starting with the smaller amounts listed and tasting until it seems right to you.  Season the salad with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and devour!

And actually I don't mind this photo of the salad from 2007, but I'm glad to have added the step-by-step photos.

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad
(Makes 4-6 servings; recipe from my friend Massoud, who taught me to make this years ago.)

(All amounts are approximate. Feel free to use more or less of some ingredients, depending on your own preferences.)

1 cup finely diced cucumber (remove seeds if they are large)
1 cup finely diced tomato
1 cup finely diced onion (I often use sweet Vidalia onion)
1 cup finely chopped parsley (more or less, to taste)
1 cup finely chopped mint (more or less, to taste)
2-3 T olive oil, or more to taste
1-2 T fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
salt, pepper to taste

Chop cucumber in pieces less than 1/2 inch and put in colander. Add a generous amount of salt and let sit while you chop other ingredients. (These days I often skip the step of salting and draining the cucumber, unless it seems watery.  If the tomatoes are juicy I sometimes put them in a colander and let the juice run out.)

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions should be cut in same-size pieces, and parsley and mint should be chopped very finely. (You can use a food processor to chop the mint and parsley if you wish.) When all ingredients are chopped, combine in mixing bowl.

Mix in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. (Start with a bit less and add more until it tastes right to you. I find it does not need a great deal of dressing to taste good.) Serve immediately.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This is a perfect side salad for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but in the summer I'd be very happy just having a big bowl of this for lunch. For a Phase One dinner, this would taste great with something like Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Capers, and Oregano and Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

Ten More Summer Tomato Salads to Savor:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Moroccan Tomato Salad ~ Kayotic Kitchen
Summer Red and Yellow Tomato Salad ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Marinated Tomato Salad ~ David Lebovitz
Chopped Middle Eastern Salad with Purslane ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Chilean Tomato Salad ~ La Fuji Mama
Garbanzo, Tomato, And Cilantro Salad with Lime and Chile Dressing ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Tomato Salad with Basil Cream Dressing ~ Lottie and Doof
Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Marinated Garbanzo Beans ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Cherry Tomato and Blue Cheese Salad ~ Aggie's Kitchen
Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, Olives, and Feta with Basil Vinaigrette ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. What a great way to use up the surplus in the garden or from the farmer's market in my case!!!!

  2. Kalyn,

    I notice you often respond to every person who leaves a comment -- that is so sweet and exceptional of you!

    I have a question to pose to you and others who comment:

    I have more than 200 cookbooks - going back 30 years or so, including a fair amount purchased in the 90's and in the past 7 years. I only cook for myself and, unfortunately, that's not enough incentive to really spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. I spent lots of money on them over the years and I'd like to try to at least get a token amount back on them.

    Does anyone have a recommendation as to how to sell them? Garage sale, E-bay, Craig's list (someone suggested just offering several lots of books for a stated price or "best offer").

    I have a large supply of vegetarian cookbooks and "healthy cookbooks, plus some gourmet.

    I always loved the idea of food and cooking, but just don't seem to activate on it much anymore. Even so, I haven't deserted the food blogs -- they're great fun and very nutritious!

  3. What a fresh looking salad. My cherry tomatoes are ripening even as I type this, it will be perfect for them!

  4. Valli, you'll love it.

    Sandy, you're nice to notice, but I don't always respond to each person, just not enough time. I try to do it when I can. I don't know how to sell cookbooks. I sold a bunch once at a yard sale, but I made hardly anything from them. You might write to Cate at Sweetnicks. I know she sometimes sells them on I'll be interested to see if other people have good ideas.

    Pam, this salad is just the best thing to make with garden tomatoes! Hope you like it.

  5. This looks fantastic!

    Interestingly enough, if you had a 1/4 cup of bulgur wheat and mince, rather than chop the other ingredients, it's also the perfect recipe for tabouli.

  6. Few things can compare to the simple pleasures of eating food you have watched grow in you backyard! When I was a kid my mother had a lovely garden and my brother & I loved to help her harvest food from it. She made some wonderful things with that produce, and looks like you did too. Can't wait to see what else you come up with!

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  7. It looks so beautiful, almost like a garden salsa. I'll have to try this.

  8. Lovely salad, Kalyn! I, sadly, have no tomatoes this year... I have been able to buy some nice ones, but it's just not the same. I'm going to have some cukes in a few days exciting!
    And I have lots of parsley and mint... so I can get clost with your salad...

  9. Yum, I love this salad.It is one of my favorites. I also add bell peppers and chunks of baked pita bread. AH, tomato season! So exicted for that!

  10. I just made the recipe with tomatoes and cucumbers fresh from the garden (I don't have an herb garden, unfortunately) and it is delicious!


  11. Liz, yes, tabbouli comes from the same part of the world. Massoud tells me that in the middle east, the tabbouli is mostly mint and parsley with just a bit of bulgar.

    Ari, I agree completely.

    Kelly, you'll love it, I promise!

    Katie, sorry to hear about the tomatoes. Garden cucumbers are great too though.

    Riana, love the sound of your version. Hmmm. I have lots of peppers!

    Jay, thanks so much for letting me know you liked it.

  12. oooh, I'm so jealous. Our tomatoes are still little green nubs!

    Sandy-la (cute name!), Amazon is a great place to sell used books. You get to set your own price and wait for someone to buy them, and if it doesn't happen then you drop your price. I've never tried selling books on Ebay, I'm betting Amazon is better. Maybe you could try them both and let us know!

  13. When your eggplants are ready you should make baba ganoosh! This salad would be a great side for the eggplant dip!

  14. I'm Arabic my self so I love Tabuli. :) did you know every ingredient in Tabuli is a cancer fighter?

  15. Your recipe really brought back memories of when we lived in Teheran when I was 10-12. Iranians love salads! The salad I remember the most from our 2 years there was a cucumber, sour cream, mint salad our maid always made for us. Seh always soaked her cukes in water with ice cubes for an hour before tossing it altogether. Your salad sounds absolutely delicious, and I'll definitely try it. Thanks for the trip back to my childhood.

  16. Glad you enjoyed the memory. An Iranian cab driver once told me about the salad you're describing. I think I will try to find a recipe for it.

  17. My tomato plants are about a foot tall and I can't wait for summer to arrive so I can give this salad a try with "real" tomatoes.


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