Grain salad

Posted on May 19, 2014


This is another copy cat recipe, but I dare not call it by its restaurant given name because I’ve made a few alterations to the original recipe, and it’s such a famous recipe that it would misleading to pretend that it’s the same dish. Hence the slightly strange nondescript name of the dish… The dish I’m sort-of copying is George Calombaris’ Cypriot grain salad served in the Hellenic Republic and Jimmy Grants restaurants. By now most Aussies will know the name George Calombaris. Once a renowned Melbournian chef, Calombaris shot to fame and became a household name as one of the Masterchef judges. Speak to anyone who have dined at either Hellenic Republic or Jimmy Grants and they will rave about the Cypriot grain salad. So when I ate there, it was only natural that I ordered the dish that had been so highly recommended to me. It gets the majority vote for a reason, that salad is really quite good! It’s such a requested recipe that it’s freely available online, you can find it on this link for example.

My departures from the original recipe are mainly due to what I had available in my pantry. I did try to track down freekah, the main grain of the original salad, but alas I failed in my search. As a substitute I’ve used barley. Barley and lentils both have a similar cooking time of around 25-30 minutes, so I’ve cooked them in the same pot. I also omitted half the raw onion and the capers because I didn’t have any, and I replace the raisins for pomegranate seeds. Also I cheated, instead of making a yoghurt sauce, I just used deli bought tzatziki (a cucumber and yoghurt dip/sauce). What can I say…shortcuts make for easy cooking on a weeknight :P.

The result? Delicious goodness. The changes I made to the original recipe are not all that noticeable. Freekah is very similar to barley in both texture and flavour; they are both nutty tasting grains with a nice chewy nature. The pomegranate and tzatziki are very complementary to the original flavours and adds a degree of freshness. A salad that gives you a bit of everything; a little crunchy, little chewy, herby, fresh, zingy and a touch of sweetness too.


RECIPE – Grain salad (serves 4-6 as a side dish)

Based on Hellenic Republic recipe


  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds extracted
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • salt to taste
  • ~1 cup tzatziki


  1. Rinse barley and lentils, then place into a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer with the lid ajar (do not leave lid covered, barley tends to bubble over). Cook for 25-30 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and grains are tender. Fluff with a spoon and leave to cool.IMG_8807
  2. If required, dry toast pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and pine nuts in a small pan over low heat. Gently swirl seeds and nuts around until it takes on a golden hue. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large salad bowl, mix together barley, lentils, coriander, parsley, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Season well, add in lemon juice and EVOO and toss to combine. Serve tzatziki on the side or dolloped on top of the salad.IMG_8816

Serving suggestion: this is a flavoursome and rather filling salad that I find goes quite nicely with fish that has been simply cooked. Here I’ve served with a lightly seasoned crispy skinned salmon and steamed greens.


All in all, I’m quite happy with this remake. My guinea pig was pleased and declared it a favourite immediately. It’s ticked all boxes in terms of taste, texture and bulk. I’ve been warned that there will be requests for this salad soon. Surely that counts as success even if it’s not a pure copy cat recipe?