When I cooked this recipe to camera I had a home crowd watching me I couldn’t have dreamed of. That night a group of Aussie women checked into Roberto’s tiny country hotel. It turned out they landed in Italy that morning arriving from London, where they visited the restaurant of their favourite chef; and that chef is your humble servant. So the one night they are in Ottolenghi eating the food and the next night they are in Sardinia watching him cook to camera in the courtyard of a small hotel in in small town. Most people would probably not be able to get the wild flowers I used in Sardinia to spread over the salad at the end. They look great but they aren’t essential. You can leave the out, substitute with other edible wild flowers that are in season and local to you, or replace with some more picked herbs.
- 300 g fregola pasta
- 2 lemons, sliced into 3mm thick rounds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 marjoram sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 400 g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
- 150 g radishes, halved, or quartered if large
- ½ small red onion, finely sliced (40 g net)
- 50 g wild rocket
- 5 g basil leaves, torn
- 5 g mint leaves, torn
- 5 g parsley leaves, picked
- 5 g dill, roughly chopped
- thyme flowers, optional
- wild mint, optional
- lavender flowers, optional
- wild onion flowers, optional
- grated zest of ½ an orange
- 50 ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 20 minutes
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Bring a medium pan of salted water to the boil and add the fregola. Boil for approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry.
Put the lemons on a roasting tray and mix with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. Spread them out flat in a single layer. Put the cherry tomatoes on another baking tray, topped with the sprigs of marjoram and rosemary. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Place both trays in the oven until the tomatoes start to split and the lemons are starting to caramelise, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Meanwhile make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together, plus ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Remove half the tomatoes from the vines and place in a large mixing bowl along with the cooked fregola, radishes, onion, rocket, and herbs. Add the cooled lemons and gently stir through the dressing. Arrange the salad on a platter, topping it with the last of the tomatoes on the vine, and finish with the wild flowers, if using.
View all the recipes from Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast.