With fresh tomatoes in season and school out for the summer, Mat Follas recommends this tabbouleh recipe, which can be enjoyed on a lazy summer day.

August brings lazy days for us (when I'm not in the kitchen at work).

My wife works in a school so we have extra family time as she's at home for August and where better to spend it than Dorset?

We also have a new member to the family, a lovely black Labrador called Fern (because she's all black and the symbol for the All Blacks is a fern!) and after trying to train our other dog to hunt truffles and failing, I've decided not to spend all my spare money on truffle oil to flavour her treats, like last time. I'll give it a try in a year or two's time, we shall see.

The star of this month's menu is fresh tomatoes, they should just be coming into their own, buy some fresh local ones if you can, they taste so much better than imported.

This take on a tabbouleh is a great alternative to the usual salads, cooked barley instead of couscous is delicious, nutty and filling, the freshness of mint and parsley and a dish that can be prepared in advance and served on its own or to accompany some charred sausages, fresh off the barbecue, make this a winner for me.

Tabbouleh Ingredients

  • 100g pearled barley
  • 2 large bunches parsley
  • small bunch mint
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 300g fresh firm tomatoes
  • White wine vinegar
  • Ground black pepper
  • All spice
  • Ground Coriander
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Table salt
  • Loaf of crusty sourdough or flatbreads to serve

Place the barley in a large saucepan and cover with the stock and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then take off the heat, add the lemon zest and leave it to cool. The barley should absorb all of the liquid and be firm but not hard.

Leaving a handful of the mint and parsley for dressing the dish, finely chop the parsley tops and stems and the mint leaves. Add them to the cooled barley and stir through.

In a separate bowl, finely chop the tomatoes and season with lemon juice and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar. Add a generous pinch of each of the pepper, allspice, coriander and cinnamon and toss to combine. Taste the salad and add a little more of the spices if you prefer your salad more heavily spiced.

To serve, spoon the barley onto plates, then the tomatoes. Sprinkle with mint and parsley leaves and drizzle a good glug of olive oil over the top. Serve with crusty bread or flat breads.