Freekeh is viewed by some as the “new” grain on the block, but it is in fact an “ancient” grain and one that is increasing in popularity. It is nutty and chewy, and a little goes a long way so it is perfect for people like me that love my grains!
It is also low in fat, high in protein and fibre, and contains many essential nutrients. I don’t like calling foods a “super food” because I think all real food is super! But this one certainly ticks a few boxes!
Freekeh is a young green wheat that has been toasted and kept either whole or cracked (for more information on Freekeh see here), and for this salad I use the whole grain so that it retains texture and chew along with the other ingredients.
The flavours in this recipe are definitely Middle Eastern, a cuisine that I adore. But I don’t want anyone having to run all over town getting special ingredients … always know that a recipe is just a guide, so substitute if you prefer.
I get my “Middle Eastern” ingredients online from The Spice Library (see here) … they are based in Perth but deliver Australia wide. They make their own Harissa paste and Preserved Lemons (both are amazing), and they have barberries (ruby coloured, tangy, sharp and delicious), green raisins (chewy and sweet) and sumac, all of which combine beautifully with the freekeh which they also sell.
But if you don’t want to go down the path of using some of these ingredients, then use other dried fruit (like currents, figs or apricots) in place of the barberries and green raisins, and use lemon zest in place of the preserved lemon. Sumac is easily available now in the spice section of most supermarkets, along with freekeh too although you may have to dig around a little for it.
When substituting you won’t get quite the same depth of flavour that I love in this dish, but you won’t be far off.
If using preserved lemon, then use all of it … the skin and flesh. Many sites advise to only use the skin, but that is such a waste! So I use it all.
To toast your nuts and seeds do the pistachios first, then the pepitas and sunflower seeds together, and finally the sesame seeds. I never do just enough nuts or seeds for any one dish … I always do more and keep them in the fridge (for regular use in salads, meals, etc.) or in the freezer (for infrequent use, but handy having them toasted already). Place nuts or seeds on a baking tray, and bake in a preheated 180 degree fan forced oven for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and stir around, return to the oven for a further 5 minutes for nuts, and 2 to 3 minutes for seeds … it will all depend on your oven but you are aiming for a lightly toasted colour. Allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge or freezer based on your needs.
To keep your dish nut free replace the pistachios with extra pepitas and sunflower seeds … which I do often when making this for the family due to nut allergies.
Instead of using the Thermomix or food processor to chop the salad ingredients, I like to prepare them by hand as I love the contrast of textures it offers.
This dish is fabulous served with any kind of meat protein, veggies patties, baked veggies, and is even great with a fried egg (or two) placed on top for brekkie or lunch (great way to use up leftovers)!
- 300g whole grain freekeh
- 900g water (TM31) or 1 litre water (TM5)
- 20g olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ red onion, very finely chopped
- 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- I small fennel bulb, cut into quarters, remove core, and then finely slice
- 3 radishes, cut in half, thinly sliced
- 50g barberries
- 50g green raisins
- 50g preserved lemon, cut into small cubes (or zest of 2 lemons)
- 40g lemon juice
- 40g olive oil
- 2 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
- Extra sea salt flakes and pepper to taste
- 100g toasted pistachios
- 30g toasted sunflower seeds
- 30g toasted pepita seeds
- 10g toasted sesame seeds
- Small handful baby spinach leaves
- Insert simmering basket into TM bowl and weigh in freekeh
- Remove basket and rinse freekeh well
- Place water, olive oil and salt into ™ bowl, insert basket with freekeh and cook 45 minutes / 100 / speed 4
- Remove basket from ™ bowl and put aside to drain the freekeh for 5 minutes
- Transfer the freekeh to an oblong container and allow to cool for an hour before covering and storing in the fridge to get completely cold … this step can be done a day ahead if preferred
- Once cold place freekeh in a large mixing bowl
- Add the red onion, parsley, fennel, radishes, dried fruit, preserved lemon, lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, salt and pepper … stir everything together well then taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed
- Put salad into the fridge until ready to serve … this can be done well ahead, but to keep the spinach glossy and the nuts and seeds crisp I add them just before I am about to serve
- When ready to serve lightly fold through the spinach leaves, nuts and seeds and place onto a serving platter, or spoon onto individual plates
- The salad will keep well in the fridge for up to three days but the nuts and seeds will lose their crispness over this time
- You can also serve this as a warm salad by lightly warming in a large frypan, or in a covered baking dish in a moderate oven until the chill has come off it ... then stir through the spinach and the nuts/seeds