Get your Freekeh on – with this lemony, herbed salad

I love Mediterranean food and while I am an omnivore, I don’t actually eat a lot of meat and frequently make vegan meals or side dishes that serve as a great left-over lunch the next day. I have never met a legume or grain that I didn’t like and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, especially those that use a lot of herbs.

I don’t remember how I first heard about the grain freekeh, but the name Market grains Israelintrigued me enough to learn a bit more about it and to find out where I could buy it. I already loved faro and wheat berries, so why not freekeh? As it turns out, freekeh is roasted green wheat. It has a wonderful nutty flavor and stands up well to salads or soups. It cooks up in about 35 minutes. I purchase mine through Nuts.com, a wonderful source for dried fruits, grains, spices and of course – nuts.

 

The following salad is adapted from one I found from Martha Rose Shulman. I have been making her vegetarian recipes for over 25 years and they have never failed me. While the beautiful fresh herbs may lose a little color by the second or third day, the flavor is just as wonderful. That assumes that you will actually have any left-overs. It’s that good!

Freekeh, Chickpea and Herb Salad

Yield: 6 servings as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 cup freekeh
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery, plus 3 tablespoons chopped leaves
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 3 lemons – more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, more to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons EVOO

Preparation

  1. Heat a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and add freekeh. Toast in the dry pan, shaking pan or stirring, until freekeh becomes fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Turn off heat and uncover. Place a clean dish towel over the pot and return lid. Let sit at least 10 minutes. Uncover and allow freekeh to cool another 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine freekeh, chopped herbs, celery, scallions and chickpeas and toss together. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, cumin, garlic, salt and olive oil; toss with salad. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Serve right away or let sit for up to 1 hour before serving.
  • Advance preparation: The salad is best served within a few hours of tossing with the dressing, when the herbs are their brightest, but it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. The cooked freekeh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator.
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