This salad isn’t what you might be expecting. As much as a love a classic Greek Salad of juicy tomatoes, refreshing cucumbers, bitter olives and salty feta, this salad take the aniseed notes of tarragon and Ouzo for this salad packed full of summery flavours and crunchy textures!
I’ve often said that my family tree looks like something out of the UN – a mongrel of a family with strands of DNA pulled from all over Europe smushed together under one roof. One such strand comes from Cyprus (the Greek bit, she whispers before running away), and I have very fond memories of visiting Granny Helen and Grandad George as a kid and being treated to the most amazing plates of food a child could hope to taste. It’s an appreciation of a regional cuisine I have kept with me all my life, and expanded to include all flavours of the Levant region.
I digress. In my organic veg box order from Dunworley Cottage recently were crisp as a pin sugar snap peas, peas and french beans and, joy of joys, a huge bunch of fresh tarragon – one of my favourite of all herbs. Tarragon, rich in aniseed flavours reminded me of a bottle of Ouzo I had in the drinks cabinet and half a portion of Feta in the fridge needing to be used up. Within moments, I rustled up this salad for lunch one hot day, eaten outside so maximise the feeling of having just left the sun lounger to step in for lunch in a beach-side taverna. One day…one day, we will travel again!
Now, before I begin, I want to address what may seem a controversial way of cooking the bulgar wheat. The traditional, and therefore time consuming, way to cook Bulgar is the same as Cous Cous: cover with water and allow it to soak up and bloom. This can take an hour and a half – and I always forget to do it! So, a much quicker method I use is to briefly rinse the bulgar under the tap, add to a saucepan, cover with 1 1/2 times the amount of water, set over a low heat with the lid on and when the liquid is all soaked up, the bulgar is cooked. Take off the heat, allow to steam under the lid for a while then fluff up with a fork. It takes about 10 minutes, and still has a lovely texture!
- 2 shallots, halved and finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 50 ml Ouzo, or you could use Raki instead
- 50 g Smoked bacon – whatever you can get, this is for flavour, so smokey rashers, pancetta, or a small piece of smoked bacon loin.
- 250 g Bulgar wheat, rinsed
- 400 ml of vegetable stock
- A handful each of fresh sugar snaps, french beans and peas
- A handful of herbs: tarragon, chives and parsley
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sea salt and black pepper
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
- 50 g Feta (I used Macroom Buffalo Feta)
- 4 crisp radishes, topped and tailed and finely sliced on the round
- Spiced flaked Almonds (you can use normal flaked almonds too)
- Into a sauce pan, add the Bulgar wheat and stock. Cook over a low-medium heat covered until the stock has been absorbed and the wheat is fluffy. Turn off heat, keep covered to steam.
- While the Bulgar Wheat is cooking, prepare your peas and beans. Clean, tail or pod, and slice the green beans and sugar snaps into small pieces. Slice the radishes and scallions and chop up the herbs. Set aside ready for assembly. Get a serving bowl ready.
- Heat a saute pan over a medium heat, add olive oil, bacon, shallots, fresh peas and French beans. Cook until the bacon is golden and shallots and green veg have slightly softened.
- Add the garlic, turn up the heat a little and add the Ouzo. Cook the alcohol off. Turn the heat down, add the cooked Bulgar Wheat to this mix and stir.
- Add in the fresh herbs and sliced sugar snaps and stir to mix through.
- Transfer all into a serving bowl. Pour a generous glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over everything, season with sea salt and black pepper and toss to combine everything together.
- Sprinkle over the sliced scallions and spiced almonds, crumble over the feta and top everything with colourful slices of crisp radish.
Serve outside in the blazing sun with a crisp white wine. Enjoy…