This is another recipe from Rick Stein’s latest book From Venice to Istanbul. The salad originates from Turkey and is called Kisir. I recently served it as part of a Middle eastern dinner which included another recipe from the same book – baked pumpkin with crispy onions and tomato. This salad makes for a lovely light and refreshing side dish. The addition of the pomegranate adds a nice tangy note and it was great in cutting through some of the richness of the slow cooked lamb I served alongside it. I’ve adjusted some of the amounts in the recipe below as I think the dressing needed more of a pomegranate molasses kick. You can make this salad using either pearl barley or freekeh. Freekeh is dried green wheat, harvested while the grains are still soft, then sun-dried. It is very common in the Middle East and is probably what they would use in Turkey but pearl barley is similar in texture, taste and size and is easier to source. There isn’t much this salad wouldn’t pair well with – anything from lamb, poultry or seafood and is especially good as a side salad for grilled meats.
Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish Adapted from Rick Steins From Venice to Istanbul
200g pearl barley or freekeh
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 spring onions, white and green parts finely sliced
1 pomegranate, seeds only
1 Lebanese cucumber, unpeeled but deseeded and finely diced – optional
Large handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped – about ½ a cup
Large handful mint, roughly chopped – about ½ a cup
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
4 tablespoons pistachios, lightly toasted and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the freekeh or pearl barley and 1 litre of water in a pan together with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until just tender. Drain and allow to cool.
When cool, mix together the pearl barley/freekeh with the spring onions, pomegranate seeds, diced cucumber, herbs and half the pistachios. Season with well with salt and pepper. Whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the pomegranate molasses with a pinch of salt, and dress the salad with it, mixing gently. Taste for seasoning and serve topped with the remaining pistachios.