The vibrant and colourful Souk el Tayeb – literally translated as ‘the good market‘ – in central Beirut is famed for the way it showcases the produce of local farmers and the very best of Lebanon’s organic ingredients; it’s literally a deep dive into the rich and inspiring culinary traditions of the Middle East. The peoples of Lebanon are justifiably proud of their ancient tradition of community growing and small-scale agricultural production which means that you can be sure that pretty much everything you pick up there will be grown with a deep sense of pride, passion and love. For me, a slow meander through the market on a slow Saturday morning is a thrilling experience that renders me all but speechless with excitement and awe. This super simple salad is a celebration of all that. It’s the perfect summer dish as the satisfyingly chewy texture of the nutty grain is beautifully offset by the piquancy of the pomegranate molasses and the vibrancy of the seasonal fruity arils and herbs. It’s literally a celebration on a plate and the perfect addition to the mezze table.
200g roasted freekeh (you can also use couscous)
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
x2 400g cans of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, plus extra to serve
Arils from 1 pomegranate, reserve a few to serve
30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
30g mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp pistachio nuts, roughly chopped, for garnishing
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
Lemon, to serve
Sumac, to serve (optional)
How I make it
Thoroughly wash the freekeh and add it to a large lidded pan. Cover with 1 litre of cold water, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and partially cover. Allow the freekeh to cook until it’s al dente, around 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse in plenty of cold water.
Place the cooked grains in a large mixing bowl and add the borlotti beans and the spring onions. Whisk together the olive oil and pomegranate molasses and gently stir through the freekeh mixture. Season to your taste.
Add most of the pomegranate arils and all the chopped herbs. Check the seasoning again.
Tumble the salad onto a beautiful plate and garnish with pistachios, the remaining pomegranate arils, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sumac.