Shirazi Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta

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I love to entertain, but I especially love summer entertaining. Throw something on the BBQ, serve a salad or two,¬†something frozen for dessert, a chilled bottle of white wine and you’re ready to go!

Salad Shirazi is a classic Persian salad with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions and herbs. It is one of my favourite side dishes for Persian Kabobs. I wanted to slightly update this classic salad by using rainbow grape and cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, fresh mint and tangy feta cheese. I’ve also pickled the shallots to cut the harsh onion flavour and add a slight sweetness to this salad.The result is a fresh, vibrant, flavourful and ¬†visually beautiful summer salad that is the perfect complement to any BBQ dish.

Shirazi Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta
(serves 4-6)

3 small shallots (or one large), sliced thinly
1/2 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
500 g grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 baby seedless cucumbers, split lengthwise and chopped into half moons.
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
200 g feta, cubed
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

To pickle the shallots, put the shallots in a bowl and pour vinegar over them along with 1/2 cup water. Set aside for 30-60 minutes.

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In a large bowl put in the tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh chopped mint and feta. Drain the shallots and add to the salad.

Add the feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

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Toss the salad. Taste and season with more salt, pepper or lemon juice if necessary. Enjoy!

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Persian Inspired Mint, Walnut and Feta Cheese Spread

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It’s that time of year again!!! The holiday party season is in full swing and I thought I’d give those of you entertaining this year a fresh new “Persian inspired” appetizer.

I’m one of those people that parks myself right by the cheese platter at parties. I thank God everyday that I’m not lactose intolerant because I adore cheese…….all varieties….the stinkier the better! Growing up in a Persian household, we ate a lot of sheep’s milk feta cheese. If you ever go to an Iranian dinner party I can guarantee that there will be bread, feta and fresh herbs (noon, paneer va sabzi khordan) at the table.

Mint, walnuts and feta are a classic Persian combination. My dish combines them into a delicious and creamy spread that is wonderful on crackers (particularly the date and walnut artisan crackers pictured above), toasted pita, barbarry or lavash bread.

Happy Holidays!

Mint, Walnut & Feta Cheese Spread

I package (250 g) cream cheese, softened
200 g feta cheese (Greek, Persian or Bulgarian)
2 tbsp yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
salt and pepper

Crumble the feta cheese with your fingers or a fork.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed blend together the cream cheese, crumbled feta cheese and yogurt for a few minutes until smooth (do not worry if some small chunks of feta remain).

Add the chopped mint and stir for 15-30 seconds until incorporated.

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Turn off the mixer. Add the walnuts. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix the walnuts well into the cheese mixture.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve with crackers, toasted pita or barberry bread. Enjoy!

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