A lettuce-based salad, with a nod to Persian flavours, jewelled with crumbled feta, ripe cherries, crunchy pistachios and dressed with a pomegranate vinaigrette.
We Persians are not known for our salad recipes. In fact we generally only have two known salad recipes. The first is Salad Shirazi – our chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion salad with a lime, olive oil and mint dressing. The second is Salad Olvieh – our take on a Russian potato salad dish.
This salad is very much a homage to ingredients that are associated with Persian cuisine. It is also a homage to the summer season with its refreshing feel and seasonal ingredients.
What you will need to make this Dish
For the pomegranate vinaigrette you will need the following ingredients:
- Olive Oil – use extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is a premium product made from cold-pressed olives. Regular olive oil is often a blend, combining processed oils in the mix. EVOO is a healthier choice as it retains vitamins and natural antioxidants, which can be lost during processing. And it has a superior flavour!
- Pomegranate Molasses – is a thick syrup with a dark grape colour made from reducing pomegranate juice. You can pick up pomegranate molasses from most local supermarkets, Middle-Eastern food shops and online.
- Red Wine Vinegar – a product made by oxidising red wine. Popular in Mediterranean cooking, it has a distinctive tangy flavour. It is a popular choice for vinaigrettes.
- Lime – adds a citrus note to the vinaigrette.
- Honey – a little sweetness to balance the sharpness of the vinaigrette.
- Za’atar Spice Blend – is a herb and spice blend popular in Levantine cooking. It contains sumac, dried Za’atar leaves, sesame seeds and salt. A staple for Middle Eastern cooks, often sprinkled on hummus, salads, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats and fish. Mixed with olive oil, it becomes the perfect dip or a spread for flatbreads. It has a flavour profile which is musky, citrusy, and nutty. Find my recipe to make a homemade version of this blend here.
- Salt & Pepper – to season the salad. The Za’atar spice blend and the feta contain salt so you may not need as much salt as you would normally add to a dressing.
For the salad you will need the following ingredients:
Make sure you use fresh ingredients for the salad.
- Lettuce or mixed leaves – either is fine or a mix of both.
- Celery, Red Onion, Cucumber – these hero ingredients add a crunchy texture and refreshing taste to the salad.
- Cherries – are in season between June and July. Make sure they look plump and juicy and remember to pit them before adding to the salad.
- Fresh Mint Leaves – complements the other flavours in this salad brilliantly such as the feta and cherries.
- Feta – always use high quality feta sold in blocks and in stored in brine.
- Pistachios – you can either use the green pistachio kernels or ones in shells. You will need to take the shells off before adding them to the salad!
What to Serve with this Salad
Also great served alongside any of the Persian frittata dishes – kuku!
- Persian Green Bean Frittata (Kuku Loobia Sabz)
- Kuku Sabzi (Persian Herb Frittata)
- Persian Potato & Beetroot Mini Frittatas (Kuku Sibzamini ba Laboo)
Cherry and Feta Salad with Pistachios
- 70 ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp Za'atar spice blend
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- 180 g lettuce / mixed leaves (roughly chop if using lettuce, mixed leaves should remain intact)
- 1 - 2 celery sticks (medium sliced)
- 1 red onion (finely sliced)
- 150 g cucumber (I use baby or Persian cucumbers - quartered then medium sliced)
- 250 g cherries (pitted and halved)
- 15 - 20 g fresh mint leaves (small leaves can be kept, roughly chop larger leaves)
- 100 g feta (crumbled)
- 40 g pistachios (shelled and roughly chopped or bashed in a pestle and mortar)
- Pomegranate Vinaigrette:Make the dressing a minimum of 1 hour before you want to serve the salad to let the flavours infuse. Take a jar with a lid and add all the pomegranate vinaigrette ingredients. Screw the lid on and give it a good shake. Taste and adjust elements to taste. Place the jar in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Serving the Salad:Layer your ingredients for the salad in a bowl. Give the jar of dressing a good shake and pour over the salad. Using salad tongs / spoons, toss the salad to ensure it is evenly coated with the pomegranate vinaigrette. Serve immediately after dressing.