I call this a Persian-style cucumber salad because it has many of the qualities of a traditional Shirazi salad, but not all of them.
A Shirazi salad (named after Shiraz in Southern Iran) is made with cucumber, tomato, onions, olive oil, herbs, spices, and lime juice.
This cucumber salad omits the tomatoes and onions, which can be difficult for some people to digest, and it adds in nutrient-dense fingerling potatoes, green beans, and cooked quinoa.
Your overall feeling when you eat this salad is really calm and balancing.
The fact that this salad is packed with vegetables makes it suitable as a complete meal on its own.
Enjoy it as a satisfying lunch or brunch dish, or make this for your family as part of your next beautiful Sunday dinner.
Why Enjoy Quinoa in Salad?
If you are the kind of person who sees salads primarily as a side dish or accompaniment to a lunch or dinner, then the idea of having whole grains in a salad might be new to you.
I can assure you that it’s really good, and adding quinoa to your salad turns it into a complete protein and a fully satisfying complete vegetarian meal.
Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that that body cannot make on its own. The body uses amino acids to assemble proteins.
The whole grain is also gluten-free, so it’s safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerances.
Other grains that are commonly added to meal-type salads are farro, freekah, bulgur wheat, and couscous.
How Do I Cook Quinoa?
Before you start cooking, the first step is to rinse the quinoa 4-5 times in cold water to remove the saponin coating from the quinoa.
Saponins are a protective coating that can otherwise add a layer of digestive difficultly to the otherwise very nutritious pseudo grain.
During rinsing, use a fine mesh sieve to catch the grains that float to the top of the rinsing water.
The proportion of water to quinoa is three to one, or three parts water to one part quinoa.
Bring the water with the quinoa to a boil in a saucepan on high, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. The process at this stage is similar to making rice.
After 12 minutes there will still be water left. Turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let it rest for 15 minutes. All the water will get absorbed.
These days in North America you will find Persian cucumbers in many grocery stores. These are small cucumbers with thin skins.
The thinness of these skins makes them fairly easy to digest, and there are no seeds, so you can consume its entirety.
If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, you can use any cucumbers, but be mindful to remove the skins and seeds, which can be tough to chew, and for those with sensitive stomachs, difficult to digest.
Fresh Herbs to Beat the Summer Heat
Most fresh herbs have a dry and light quality and this is true for the herbs dill, basil, and cilantro listed in today’s cucumber salad recipe.
In the moist heat of early summer and wet summer climates, the dry quality is helpful to bring about balance.
Lightness is a quality that is often desirable, such as when you are feeling heavy or lethargic, which are common experiences when the body is battling the summer heat.
When you think about fresh herbs, naturally you expect they will be pungent and lively. Fresh herbs tend to awaken the senses and bring inspiration to the mind.
Cilantro, in particular, has a wonderfully cooling affect on the body, which is perfect for summer. It also tastes great with cooling cucumbers.
Once the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lime is complete, and then the salad is finished with quality flake salt and freshly ground pepper, you’ve got an array of flavors to enjoy
As you can see, fresh herbs are the perfect complement for a summer cucumber salad.
Can you feel the craving for a nourishing cucumber salad? Check the recipe below for the details.
Other Recipes With Quinoa & Salad You May Like
Hearty Persian-Style Cucumber Salad
- ⅓ cup quinoa, (1 cup cooked)
- 6-7 small fingerling potatoes, (about 1 ½ cups worth)
- 1 cup green beans
- 4 cups lettuce, of your choice
- 2-3 Persian cucumbers, (about 1 ½ cups chopped)
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
- 3 tablespoons basil or parsley, (or both)
- ½ lime freshly juiced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon flake salt, (see notes)
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Wash quinoa in cold water 2-3 times to remove its natural saponin coating. Saponins are difficult to digest and can make quinoa taste bitter. Add washed quinoa with ⅔ cup of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow quinoa to rest for 15 minutes with the lid on to soak up the remaining water.
- Steam the potatoes using a steamer basket or a saucepan along with a cup of water. The steaming method (rather than boiling) will give the potatoes a light quality for this summer dish. Cover with a lid and steam for 6 minutes on low.
- Wash the green beans, chop off the stems, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add green beans on top of the potatoes and continue to steam until both the potatoes, and the green beans, are fully cooked (about 8 more minutes). Remove from heat and drain if necessary, then place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to cool. When you are ready to assemble the salad, cut the potatoes into smaller pieces if needed, then toss vegetables with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Chop the lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, and other fresh herbs. Keep the lettuce, herbs, and cucumber separate.
- Assemble the salad in layers. Place the lettuce on the bottom, then layer on the prepared potatoes and green beans, cucumbers, and quinoa, followed by fresh herbs, fresh lime, olive oil, salt, and pepper.