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Fig and herb salad

Fig and herb salad with pearl couscous, toasted hazelnuts and za’atar

Put your summer abundance to good use with this recipe from the preserving and pickling masters Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler. 


200g pearl couscous
6–8 figs, depending on their size
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
11/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 small handful of picked chervil and/or oregano leaves
1 small handful of picked flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves 
1 small handful of picked basil leaves
1 teaspoon picked thyme leaves
45g (1/3 cup) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon za’atar
Dried pollen from 2–3 fennel flower heads


Bring 500ml (2 cups) water to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add some salt and stir in the couscous.
Reduce the heat and let the couscous simmer just below boiling point for 5–10 minutes, or until it has absorbed the liquid and is firm but tender, stirring every minute or so.
Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Leave to steam for 10–15 minutes, then loosen the couscous with a fork.

Meanwhile, cut stems off the figs and tear into bite-sized pieces. Place in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil and vinegar and let them macerate for about 5 minutes.

Gently fold most of the herbs and most of the hazelnuts through the figs, being careful not to break them up too much.

Spread the couscous on a large serving plate or platter. Arrange the figs and herbs on top. Garnish with the remaining herbs and nuts and sprinkle the za’atar evenly over the salad. Finish with an extra drizzle of olive oil, crumble the fennel pollen on top, if using, and serve.