SERVES 4-6 AS A SIDE / 2 HUNGRY PEOPLE AS A MAIN

We ate this salad at the restaurant Tholos, on the keyside in Symi town, during our pre-shoot scouting days and we all found it delicious. The name conjures images of charcoal-habited monks tilling their walled gardens in the mountain monasteries of the island and assembling simple but delicious lunches from grown and garnered local ingredients.

The original had caper leaves but these are harder to find outside Greece, so I have used sea beans, a marinated seaweed (Himathalia elongata), found in my local wholefood shop. Capers and onions are vital, but if you find any of the ingredients hard to find, this salad will also be good with other peppers or the addition of olives and for a leafy accent you could try tucking in a few leaves of some crunchy watercress or rocket instead of the sea beans or caper leaves.

Ingredients

1 large red onion, sliced in medium half rings

125g pearl barley, rinsed

125g speckled green lentils, rinsed

a handful of baby tomatoes, halved

1 small orange romano pepper

35g sea beans *optional

3 dsp capers, rinsed

12 large Spanish caper berries

10 hot Spanish Guindillas peppers

5 stems thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

a handful of f lat parsley, chopped

2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

Method

In a large, lidded pan over a medium heat, toss the onion in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and saut until glossy and very slightly soft. Add the pearl barley and the lentils and cover with cold water until the water level is 1 above the surface.

Add the oregano and tuck the bay leaves and the thyme in amongst the grains. Bring to the boil and then keep gently simmering with the lid on for about 30-45 mins until the grains are al dente. During this time keep an eye on it and, when it becomes dry, top up the pot regularly with a little more water to keep a slick shimmering over the top. As the grains become cooked, slow down the water addition and allow the surface to become dry. The aim is to end up with grains that are gently moistened with delicious, herby cooking water and can be tipped straight into a bowl.

Once cooked, throw in the parsley and leave to cool slightly until blood heat and then slip all the grains into a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients arranging the peppers, tomatoes and other ingredients attractively. Season with salt and pepper and a little more olive oil to taste and serve for a light lunch or with some simple fish.

Photography Nick Seaton. Recipe Jessica Seaton

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