I’ve made Fattoush as my contribution to Jonathan and Lyndsey’s last two barbecues so I thought I’d better ring the changes this evening, especially as many of the same people will be there as at the last barbecues. So I delved into my favourite Moro East and came across this lovely recipe – and even one I hadn’t tried before!
As I was buying the ingredients this morning it struck me there was a bit of the Waldorf Salad about the recipe … well, there were celery and walnuts playing major parts. But then it comes to a huge fork in the great salad road and heads off to something entirely different. For a start, on the fruit front it uses pomegranates instead of apples, and then the salad is enfolded in a deliciously fresh pomegranate juice dressing rather than a heavy Waldorf mayonnaise. The Sams say in Moro East that it’s ‘great with fish, chicken or lamb’ which seemed to shout, Good barbecue salad! to me.
You’ll need a large head of celery, 2 pomegranates, 200g coarse bulgur, 150g walnuts, large bunch of flat-leafed parsley and a few stalks of fresh mint. I doubled the recipe as I was cooking for quite a few people.
First of all soak the bulgur. Measure it into a bowl, put in a little salt (and I like to add to bulgur and couscous a tablespoon olive oil at this point), pour over enough warm water to cover, stir and then leave for about 10-15 minutes.
It should soak up all the water. Check it’s tender but still retains a bit of bite. Drain if there’s any water left or add a bit more water if it’s still hard and needs more soaking. When ready, transfer to a large serving bowl. Now start adding your other ingredients. Doubling up the recipe would give 800g celery, but doubling up recipes doesn’t always work strictly times-two. That was going to be too much so in the end I chopped 6 large stalks of celery – not too finely, about 5mm. (I always buy organic celery; the difference between organic and non-organic – same for carrots – is immense and the flavour so much better.) Add the celery to the bowl along with the roughly chopped walnuts and roughly chopped parsley and some finely chopped mint.
Now cut 1 pomegranate open and remove the seeds. I hold each half over with bowl with a sieve and bash the top (skin up side) with a rolling pin till the seeds start popping out. Make sure you pick out any of the bitter pith before you add the seeds to the salad.
Now make your dressing: squeeze the juice from the other pomegranate. Mash 1 clove garlic with a teaspoon salt to a paste and add to the pomegranate juice with 12 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and some pepper. Mix and leave to one side.
At this point I covered the salad – still unmixed and undressed – with cling film and put in the fridge till the time I was heading off to the party so it didn’t become too soggy. Then at the last moment, pour the dressing over the salad (I did this through a sieve to catch the bits of smashed garlic as the dressing will have taken up the flavour but it saves people finding stringy bits of garlic in their mouth). Fold it all very gently together so the dressing thoroughly mixes in.
And – there you are … a lovely salad! And now … off to the party!