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.
300g fregola pasta
2 lemons, sliced into 3mm thick rounds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 marjoram sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
400g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
150g radishes, halved, or quartered if large
½ small red onion, finely sliced (40g net)
50g wild rocket
5g basil leaves, torn
5g mint leaves, torn
5g parsley leaves, picked
5g dill, roughly chopped
Thyme flowers, optional
Wild mint, optional
Lavender flowers, optional
Wild onion flowers, optional
Grated zest of ½ an orange
50ml olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 220C.
- 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.