This divine salad comes from the pages of one of my most loved and well-thumbed cookbooks, from two of my favourite chefs, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi.
As is typical of their recipes, it’s a wholesome, fragrantly-spiced and vibrant creation; however, they give the dish’s credit to Tami Rosenbaum, the mother of one of Yotam’s childhood friends.
I substituted the original inclusion of barley for farro (simply because I prefer it) but you could also use spelt or freekeh (or even quinoa, as a gluten-free option). I also used walnuts instead of cashews (again, just a preference of taste).
On an interesting note, even though I usually I get adverse reactions from eating processed wheat flour products, I find I’m able to digest farro and freekeh without any issues.
This had me puzzled – because they’re both forms of wheat – but after doing a bit of research on the interwebs I discovered that both grains are harvested while the wheat is young and green.
After distilling information from several sources (and with a healthy awareness not to take any internet info as gospel), it would appear that this means that the levels of gluten are lower, or in a form that’s much easier to process, and therefore more tolerable to anyone with sensitivities (NOT coeliacs, though).
In any case, I can only rely on my personal experience. Conclusion: farro and freekeh mercifully do not give me stabbing stomach pains after consumption and see me blowing up like a blimp.
It’s the blend of spices in this salad which really give it the wow factor, along with the lush herbs and lemon juice cleansing the palate.
Za’atar is a zesty seasoning used in many Middle Eastern countries. Although there may be slight variations from region to region, the blend traditionally includes sumac, sesame seeds and dried herbs.
This salad can be served as a versatile side, or you can increase the amount of grain and it becomes a satisfying lunch on its own.
parsley, feta & farro salad
adapted slightly from the recipe in ‘jeruselum’ by yotam ottolenghi & sami tamimi
½ cup farro 150g feta 5 ½ tbsp olive oil 1 tsp za’atar ½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and crushed ¼ tsp ground cumin 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves and fine stems) 4 spring onions, finely sliced 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 60g walnuts, lightly toasted and crushed roughly 1 green capsicum, deseeded and diced ½ tsp ground allspice 2 tbsp lemon juice black pepper sea salt
Place the farro in a small saucepan, cover with one and a half cups of water, and bring to the boil. As soon as it’s boiling, reduce the heat as low as possible and steam – without lifting the lid – for 30 minutes, until the farro is tender but with a bite.
Pour into a fine sieve, shake to remove all the water, and transfer to a large bowl.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil with the za'atar, coriander seeds and cumin.
Break the feta into rough pieces, about 2 centimetre (¾ inch) in size and add to the bowl of seasoned olive oil. Gently mix together and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.
To the farro add the spring onions, garlic, walnuts, capsicum, allspice, lemon juice and the remaining olive oil. Stir everything gently to combine and season to taste.
To serve, divide the salad among plates and top with the marinated feta.