"Watermelon is good mood food; brilliant eaten outside, somewhere warm and sunny. You'll see I quickly pickle the watermelon along with the red onion; not only to balance the salty halloumi and intense sundried tomatoes but because drawing out its naturally sweet juices helps to form a great dressing for the chewy spelt grains. As is often the case, I go heavy on the herbs here, chopping a mix of parsley, dill and mint. By all means just use one or two kinds of soft herb if that's all you have to hand. Hopefully you'll agree this is a great dish to have in your collection for brighter days." - Jessica Elliott Dennison.
350 g spelt
3 Tbs vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 small red onion, peeled and halved
150 g sugar snap peas
6 jarred sundried tomatoes plus 2 1/2 Tbs infused oil from the jar
250 g halloumi
1 small watermelon (450 g flesh)
200 g radishes, thinly sliced
Small bunch (20 g) flatleaf parsley, leaves only
Small bunch (20 g) dill, leaves only
Small bunch (20 g) mint, leaves only
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbs dukkah (optional)
Barley, farro, freekeh or couscous.
Sugar snap peas:
Green beans or frozen peas.
Feta, Danish combi or salted ricotta (don't fry these though)
If your watermelon is on the large side, why not scoop out and deseed the leftover flesh then freeze and blend into a slushie-style drink?
First, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spelt for the time stated on the packet (around 16–18 minutes). Then refresh under cold water, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, stir the vinegar, sugar and half the salt in
a large bowl. Slice the onion into half-moons, as finely as you can, and stir through the vinegar mixture to quickly pickle (this will make the onion turn bright pink).
Next, fill a frying pan (skillet) 2 cm (¾ in) deep with water. Bring to a rapid boil then blanch the sugar snap peas over a high heat for 1 minute. Refresh under cold water, drain thoroughly then set aside.
Wipe out the pan with a few sheets of kitchen paper then heat 1 tablespoon of the sundried tomato oil over a high heat. Crumble in
bite-size chunks of the halloumi (discarding any liquid from the packet) and fry for 3–4 minutes until golden. Set aside.
Chop the watermelon into large chunks (discarding the seeds and skin) and add to the onion pickle mixture for 5 minutes. Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes and finely chop the herbs.
Place the spelt, onion and pickled watermelon (not the pickling juice), sugar snap peas, remaining tomato oil, radishes, tomatoes, herbs and remaining salt in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze in the lime juice, gently toss with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed then transfer to a platter. Top with the halloumi and dukkah, if using.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Salad Feasts by Jessica Elliott Dennison published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $29.99 and is available in stores nationally.
Photo Credits: Matt Russell.