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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 26th June 2018

Recipe: Cherry on Top

This season’s pick of the fresh fruits has to be British cherries. Growers are hoping for another bumper crop after last year’s recording-breaking season. Here, cook, food writer and blogger Rosie Birkett shares her taste of summer.

Freekeh Salad with Pan Fried Duck Breat and Pickled Cherries

Serves 2

You’ll Need

For the pickled cherries:

• 150g red wine vinegar
• 150ml water
• 60g caster sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 bay leaf
• Sprig of fresh thyme
• Strip of orange zest
• 3 black peppercorns
• 1 star anise
• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 250g cherries, pitted and halved

For the salad:

• 200g freekeh
• 200g runner beans, topped and tailed and sliced into 3 on the diagonal
• 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped
• 100g feta, crumbled
• 1 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

For the dressing:

• 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• ½-1 tsp red chilli flakes
• Large pinch of sea salt

For the duck:

• 2 duck breasts
• Pinch of five-spice powder
• Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. First make the pickled cherries. Combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, bay leaf, thyme, orange zest, peppercorns and spices in a non-reactive pan and bring to a gentle boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn down to a simmer and add the cherries, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a sterilised jar to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4.

3. Wash the freekeh in a large bowl of cold water, rubbing it between your fingers to rid the impurities. Rinse in a sieve under more cold water and then cook in lightly salted boiling water for 15 minutes until tender. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.

4. To make the dressing, place the extra virgin olive oil in a bowl with the mustard, chilli and salt. Add in 1 tbsp of the cherry pickling liquor and whisk until silky smooth and emulsified.

5. Score the fat on the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern using a sharp knife. Rub a pinch of five-spice powder all over both breasts and then season well.

6. Heat a non-stick, oven proof pan over a medium heat and sear the duck, fat-side down, for about 3-5 minutes, until golden and crisp and the fat is rendering out. Finish off in the oven for a further 3-5 minutes then remove from the oven and leave to rest.

7. While the duck is resting, cook the runner beans in plenty of lightly salted boiling water, until bright green and tender – about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under really cold water.

8. Put the runner beans in a bowl with the chopped shallots and pour over the dressing. Toss to coat and then add in the freekeh, chopped parsley and 1 tbsp of the drained pickled cherries. Toss together to combine and then divide between plates and crumble over the feta. Top with the sliced duck breasts and chopped hazelnuts.

• For more fruity and seasonal recipe inspiration, visit www.seasonalberries.co.uk 

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