Cherry, herb and freekeh tabule
Two of my favourite cookbooks over the last couple of years have been Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co's Food from the Middle East and The Baking Book so I've been hugely looking forward to their new book Honey & Co: At Home. Their recipes, which you can also find in the FT, are not just drop-dead delicious but reassuringly (and unusually for chefs!) actually work.
I picked this salad, a brilliant twist on the standard tabbouleh, as herries are in season right now and it's perfect for this hot weather. You can buy freekeh from their deli in Warren Street, Honey & Spice or from specialist middle eastern shops.
Cherry, herb and freekeh tabule
Throughout the Middle East, freekeh is prepared in the spring.The wheat is picked while the sheaves are still green and the wheat kernels are still soft. The crops are harvested and arranged in piles to dry, and then are carefully set on fire to burn away the chaff and straw. The moisture in the wheat kernels prevents them from burning; they just take on a very subtle smokiness. Once cooled, the wheat is rubbed by hand (hence the name: farik means rubbed in Arabic), then dried and stored for use throughout the year.
Makes enough salad for a party or for 8–10 as part of a spread
For the freekeh
250g/9oz/12⁄3cups dried freekeh
2 celery sticks
1 carrot, peeled and halved lengthways
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
For the salad
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 small bunch of tarragon, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
60g/2 1⁄4oz/1⁄2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped
60g/2 1⁄4oz/scant 1⁄2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
300g/10 1⁄2oz/2 cups cherries, pitted and quartered
1 celery heart, stalks finely chopped
1 tsp seasalt
3 tbsp olive oil
Rinse the freekeh under cold water, then place in a large pan and cover with 1litre/1 3⁄4 pints/4 1⁄3 cups of fresh water. Add the celery, carrot and bay leaf, and bring to the boil over a high heat. Remove any foam that comes to the top and reduce the heat to medium. Add the olive oil and salt, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the freekeh is just al dente. The timing may vary as there are different grades of grain.
Drain the freekeh and use tongs or a fork to remove the vegetables and bay leaf. Taste to see if you need to add a little more olive oil and salt. Best to do this when the freekeh is hot, as it will absorb the flavours better.
Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool before mixing in all the salad ingredients. Toss with a light hand to combine, and taste for seasoning again before serving.
What to drink: I imagine most likely be having this as part of a bigger spread. If it accompanies grilled meat I'd go for a light red like a cinsault or mencia. If it's part of a veggie feast - and at this time of year - I'd pick a dry rosé.
Recipe from Honey & Co at home: Recipes from our Middle Eastern kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (£26, Pavilion). Photography by Patricia Niven.
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