In truth, it was inspired by a salad my manager used to make at Piebury Corner, which always hit the spot on the warmer summer days. No wonder, as its ingredients are notably middle-eastern in their combination. Sitting in the garden while the evening sun fades to the distance with this gorgeous balance of sweet fruit and sharp vinegar today was divine. And given the nature of this dish, it’s perfect for your summer barbecues! Make a nice big bowl and just add a spoon.
I didn’t have any pomegranate molasses – an appallingly underused ingredient – and so simply used a touch more mint, but if you have any to hand I would use a splash in here for an extra tangy note.
While many grains are used in dishes of this sort, I think Orzo works best. It doesn’t clump like cous-cous or rice, and when cooked al-dente, it has a gorgeous bite to it. You can, of course, add and replace ingredients as you like. Olives, courgettes, cherry tomatoes etc. would all be fabulous here.
- Mint Sauce
- Pomegranate seeds
- Feta (and any other cheese – I crumbled in some Wensleydale with Cranberries)
- Pumpkin seeds (seeds or nuts add a nice crunch to the mouth-feel)
- Beans – I used borlotti. Great for fibre and protein!
- Olive Oil
- Toss the orzo (about 1/2 mug per portion) with a little olive oil and a few generous sprinklings of salt, then pour in enough boiling water to cover. Cook on a rolling boil until ALMOST fully cooked through – nice and al-dente.
- In a pan fry some peppers and onions until soft but not too brown.
- In your bowl combine the rest of the ingredients – the mint sauce is very much to your liking. I used about 1/2 a jar on this, decided it was too week and added a few more spoonfuls. Best to add less than you’ll need, then make final adjustments at the end.
- When the orzo is cooked, drain, then add to the bowl along with the onions and peppers. Toss well, garnish with a little more crumbled cheese and leaves, and adjust salt to taste.
It’s a salad, you can’t do wrong.