Picture yourself sitting at a table for six on chairs painted in a faded shade of Aegean blue, its white cotton cloth billowing in the warm breeze, the sea slowly lapping onto the beach just yards from your feet. Women, invariably dressed in black, sit alongside one another on a bench cracking pistachio shells as they gossip about their errant husbands, most of whom can be found sitting in the shade of the local taverna downing small glasses of milky ouzo chased by tiny cups of thick sweet coffee. The fishing boats start to glide in with crates of glittering fish for the few who stand waiting or passengers carrying baskets of fresh vegetables and the odd live chicken. Such is Greek island life. The centrepiece of your table is this salad, a wonderful combination of nutty pearled spelt, creamy chickpeas, peppery rocket, roasted red peppers, briny Kalamata olives and fresh parsley with a punchy honey, lemon, oregano and chilli dressing. Opa, the summer begins!
250g pearled spelt, rinsed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
450g jar of roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
A generous handful of Kalamata olives, cut in half
125g bag of wild rocket, roughly chopped
30g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (you can also use fresh mint)
A generous pinch of sea salt
Dried wild oregano or pul biber, for garnishing
For the dressing:
8 tbsp of Greek extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp of Greek honey
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Half tsp of dried wild oregano
Half tsp of chilli flakes (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to your taste
How I make it
In a large pan, cover the spelt with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, partially cover and allow the grains to simmer until they are cooked but still al dente (around 15-20 minutes). Drain through a sieve and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
In the meantime, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a clean jam jar. Firmly screw on the lid and shake vigorously to combine. Check the seasoning and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled cooked spelt and all the other ingredients. Dress to your taste and tumble everything onto a beautiful plate. Garnish with a wild sprinkling of wild oregano or pul biber.