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Persian Spring Salad with Herbs, Walnut and Cucumber in a Lemon Vinaigrette

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An homage to Iran's light, spring salads, this dish is what I crave after the heavy foods of winter. Bright, “herb-centric,” and versatile, this salad hits all the right flavor notes with its unusual combination of tender greens, creamy feta, marinated green olives, raisins, walnuts, spicy radishes, savory onions, and fresh herbs (mint, tarragon, parsley, dill and chives). It’s salty, lemony, creamy and herby—all in one bite! While modern variations tout roasting the walnuts to enhance their nutty flavor, I like traditional renditions best, which use only walnuts in their raw form. This “meal-in-a-bowl” is a great choice if you’re watching your weight or if you are simply just too tired to turn on the stove (most of the prep is done with a mandolin!).

While you can use a sharp knife to slice the veggies, I use a Japanese Benriner, which does a beautiful job in minutes. What you are looking for in this dish is a thin slice, about ¼-inch thick. This salad is not only a symphony of flavors; it’s also about texture—and how the veggies feel on your tongue. Flat-leaf parsley should be a small-medium chop. This allows the herb to impart a lovely, slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweet raisins, salty feta and tangy olives without leaving a tough texture on the tongue to distract you. The dressing is surprisingly light-- substituting water for the usual oil ratio. Just be sure to shake or stir the vinaigrette to emulsify it before dressing the salad.

Persian Spring Salad with Herbs, Walnut and Cucumber in a Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves: 2
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For the Lemon Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher flake salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon powdered garlic
1 teaspoon California organic olive oil
5 tablespoons filtered water

Place all ingredients into a small jar and shake till combined, adjusting seasoning if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the salad
2 cups mixed greens, washed and dried
3 red radishes, thinly sliced
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 bunch organic flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 green onions, roots removed and sliced
½ bunch chives, finely chopped
1 Roma tomato, cored and thinly sliced.
1/8 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced ¼-inch thick
1/3 cup marinated green olives, pits removed
2 tablespoons raisins
1/3 cup raw walnuts
½ cup crumbled French or Bulgarian Feta

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, with herbs layered on top if not serving immediately, and cover with plastic wrap, then place in the refrigerator till ready to use (best up to 1 hour). To serve, toss salad gently several times. Pour 1/4 cup dressing over salad and toss to coat. Season by sprinkling a pinch of kosher flake salt and pepper, then serve.

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