A recipe with melon at its centre might seem odd for me to post on a blog all about seasonal, local food, but it is actually possible to grow melons in the UK. I know, it was a surprise to me too and I have to admit it isn’t something I have personally tried yet, but I’m considering giving melons a go in the polytunnel next year. What I have grown successfully, though, are chillies which also feature in this late summer recipe and give it some real punch.
I can’t take credit for the idea behind this recipe, which actually came from a similar dish I tried in a Danish bar called Tørst in Brooklyn, NYC, a few years ago. I’m normally one to do a fair bit of research about places to eat and drink when on holiday, but sometimes serendipity wins and we found this wood-panelled gem entirely by accident. We sampled some really quite delicious craft beers and ordered a range of small plates to accompany them. Aside from the absolute mastery of a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven ancient grains sourdough that I can only dream of replicating, this was the stand-out that I just had to recreate at home. To be able to make it with our home-grown chillies is pretty special.
The combination of fresh, sweet, juicy melon, smoky grains, a hot punch of chilli and velvety soft labneh make this a delicious salad to serve at a dinner party, barbecue, or just to have for lunch if you ask me! The blend of flavours lend themselves just as well to the heat of summer as they do to the approaching autumn. Up the amount of freekeh to eat as is, or serve with grilled flatbreads (ideally cooked over a fire) and scoop everything up. YES PLEASE!
Grilled Melon with Labneh, Smoky Grains and Green Chilli Oil Recipe
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a sharing plate with flatbreads
- 170g labneh (or strain Greek yoghurt through muslin cloth overnight in the fridge using a non-reactive sieve and add salt to taste)
- 1/2 cantaloupe melon, cut into slices and peel removed
- 250g cooked whole freekeh
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- Pinch smoked salt
- 100ml olive oil
- 3 green chillies, chopped
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 1 handful fresh coriander
- First make the green chilli oil. Prepare an ice bath by placing some ice in a bowl of cold water and set aside. Heat a saucepan of slightly salted water until boiling and add all of the parsley and half of the coriander. Blanch for about 20 seconds before removing and placing directly into the ice bath. Once cool enough to handle, wring out as much of the water as possible. Blend together with the olive oil and chillies in a food processor for about 1-2 minutes until homogeneous. Strain gradually through a cheesecloth or muslin into a jug until ready to use.
- Heat the freekeh through in a frying pan over a medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the smoked paprika and salt to season.
- While the freekeh is cooking, grill the melon over a griddle pan, trying not to move it around too much so that you get those lovely charred lines. It will only need a couple of minutes on each side and take care that it doesn’t burn.
- Spread the labneh over a plate and top with the hot freekeh. Lay the melon pieces over the top, drizzle with your green chilli oil and garnish with the leftover coriander.
Let me know if you give this recipe a go – I always love to see your creations so just tag @plotandlane on Instagram. Let me know what you think in the comments!
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