Shirazi Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta

IMG_4667

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.

IMG_4658

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.

IMG_4659IMG_4661

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

IMG_4665

 

Advertisements

Sandevich-e Kalbas (Persian Mortadella Sandwich)

IMG_3120

It’s kind of a stretch to call this a “recipe” but Sandevich-e Kalbas is an essential part of Persian cuisine.  Yes, this sandwich may seem rather ordinary, but it is it is anything but and is pure nostalgia for us Iranians.

Persians take the art of simple sandwich making very seriously and sandwich shops are very popular in Iran. My parents tell me stories of their favourite sandwich shop from their younger years in Tehran, Andre. There were crowds lining up for the best sandwiches Iran had to offer. Although they had many different varieties, they were famous for their Kalbas Sandwiches. Although I never had the pleasure of experiencing one of Andre’s famous sandwiches, my parents often re-created them at home in Canada. Tasting one instantly brings back childhood memories of picnics in the park and lunch at my Saturday Farsi school.

Kalbas is often referred to as Persian Mortadella. But there are significant differences  from the Italian version. In terms of taste and texture, Persian Mortadella is almost like a cross between Italian Mortadella and Kielbasa Sausage (I suspect that is how Kalbas got its name). Instead of the traditional peppercorns, Kalbas is usually studded with pistachios and has a distinct garlic flavour. Also, while Italian Mortadella is made with pork, Persian Kalbas is often made with beef or veal, in addition to a pork version.

The perfect Kalbas sandwich is served on a soft baguette or a fresh submarine bun, with lots of mayonnaise, Persian pickled cucumbers and ripe tomatoes. I’m a purist, so when my husband suggested adding avocados (which I normally love in sandwiches) I almost had a heart attack. There are some things you just don’t mess with.

Sandevich-e Kalbas
(serves 1)

Soft French Baguette or bun
3-4 Slices of Kalbas (Persian Mortadella)
Mayonnaise
3-4 Slices of Pickles (preferably Persian Pickled Cucumbers)
3-4 Slices of Tomato
Lettuce (optional)
Salt & Pepper (optional)
Split the baguette or bun. Spread a good amount of mayonnaise on the bread and arrange the kalbas slices on the bread.

IMG_3112IMG_3117

Top with the pickles, tomatoes and lettuce. You may season the tomatoes with salt and pepper if you wish.

IMG_3115

Enjoy!!!!

IMG_3114

Salad Olivieh (Persian Chicken, Potato and Egg Salad)

There is so much I love about summer: lounging in the sun, a glass of wine on a patio, BBQs, the cottage…….but one of my favourite things about the summer season is going on picnics. When I was young we went on a picnic almost every weekend. It was never a small affair. Many family friends joined us and we always had so much fun. Whenever I go to a park now and see a large immigrant family gathered around a picnic table I get nostalgic.

One of my absolute favourite picnic salads is Salad Olivieh. Although I call it a Persian salad, it is in fact a salad that we have borrowed and adapted from our neighbours in Russia. The original “Salad Olivier” was invented in the 1860s by Belgian chef Lucien Olivier, who was a celebrated chef at one of Russia’s most popular restaurants. The original salad by Chef Olivier contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck. Over the years the salad has evolved and changed and the modern salad is a delicious mixture of chicken, eggs, potatoes, peas and pickles in a creamy dressing.

I love my mother’s version of Salad Olivieh. It is much lighter and tastier than other ones I have tried. Using a store bought roast chicken makes this recipe much simpler and using waxy potato allows them to hold their shape in the salad and not turn into starchy mush.

Salad Olivieh
(serves 6-8)

1 whole roasted chicken
4 hardboiled eggs*
4 medium potatoes, peeled (preferably a waxy potato such as Yukon Gold)
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas, cooked**
3 green onions, sliced (both white and greens)
1 1/2 cups diced sour pickles (preferably pickles in brine)
1 cup mayonnaise (you may use light if you wish)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Remove all the meat off the roasted chicken and dice into 1/2 inch pieces. Put into a large bowl.

Add the peas, pickles and green onions to the chicken. Peel the shell off the eggs and dice the eggs into half-inch pieces and also add to the salad.

Put the potatoes in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes until cooked (use a knife to poke them with to see if they are cooked). Drain and let cool. Dice into 1/2 inch pieces and add to salad.

To make the dressing, whisk the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Pour over salad and gently mix.

Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Chill for at least one hour.  Enjoy!

*To hard boil an egg: put the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. When boiling turn down heat to a simmer (medium-low heat) and cook for 10 minutes. Drain. To cool it quickly cover with cold water.

**Cook as per the package directions. Usually boil them for 3 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water to cool them.