When I worked as a private chef on yachts this was always a go to salad of mine and was a constant request from the guests. Even guests who tried to keep their carbohydrate intake down and had given me an absolute NO to pasta salads, they LOVED this one.
The great thing about this salad is, is that although the base is made from fregola (some may know it as Isreali couscous) there are so many other beautiful ingredients and heaps of herbs that you hardly recognise the starch that carries all the vibrant zesty dressing.
The textures in this salad are also something to appreciate. Cherry tomatoes are used in two different ways here. Half of the bright little tomatoes are scorched on a piping hot pan to blister, char and tear the delicate tomato skin and the other half are left in their raw delicious form which adds freshness and a lightness to the salad. Peppery radishes also play a part in the texture of the dish as the slightly spicy crunch gives body and character.
Most importantly however it is the five different types of herbs in this salad that really make it sing. Not only do they add a vast array of lively green tones, it is the variety of flavours like lemony citrus from the coriander, a buttery grassiness from the dill, deep pepperiness from the parsley and a fresh green aroma from the basil.
I could spend the day describing this wonderful salad but until you make it yourself you'll never know. So go make it. It truly is scrumptious.
45 MINUTES. SERVES 6
1 red onion, diced
300g cherry tomatoes
large bunch of spinach or rocket leaves
bunch of parsley
bunch of mint
bunch of dill
bunch of coriander
bunch of basil
Firstly cook the fregola per packet instructions, you want this slightly al dente so cook it 3 or 4 minutes less than instructed time. I cooked mine for 10 minutes in heavily salted boiling water. Drain and rinse under cold water immediately to cool. Set aside.
Add the diced red onion to a pan with a little olive oil and pan fry for 10 minutes with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
While the onion is cooking prepare the tomatoes. Leave half whole, these will be pan fried, and chop the other half of the tomatoes in quarters. Set aside.
Slice the radishes in quarters too. Slice one of the lemons into wedges.
In a piping hot pan add the whole cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Place the lemon wedges flat side down too.
Leave the tomatoes and lemon wedges sit on the surface of the hot pan for 3 minutes, this allows a nice char to appear on the skin (try not to shake the pan around).
After 3 minutes flip over the lemon wedges to char on the other side and give the cherry tomatoes a shake so that they char on a different part of the skin. Fry for a further 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.
For the dressing add the juice of one lemon, the zest and juice of the nectarine to a bowl. Add roughly three times as much olive oil as you have lemon and nectarine juice.
Season heavily with salt and pepper and stir. Set aside.
Wash the spinach or rocket. Roughly chop all of the herbs and set some aside to garnish the salad on top.
Time to assemble the salad. Add all the ingredients except the lemon wedges and reserved herbs to a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix everything together.
Transfer to your serving dish and place the lemon wedges on top. Scatter over the reserved herbs.