Warm Freekeh Salad with Feta and Sesame




I popped into oiur local deli the other day and was surprised to find that they had started to stock freekeh. I had read about this grain in Ottolenghi's Plenty and Jerusalem but presumed that I would remain one of those mysterious ingredients that I would never manage to get hold of. Being a real food geek needless to say I was somewhat excited to purchase my first bag!

Everything I had read about freekeh made it sound pretty great, even before tasting it. It's an ancient grain that is harvested whilst still green and then toasted to remove the husk, leaving it with a faint smoked flavour. It retains its texture well when cooked and has a nutty bite to it so it works well in both salads or pilafs. On top of all that it is also pretty darn healthy, packed with protein as well as fibre, and easy to cook.

I wasn't disappointed when I tried it for the first time, it really does have a great texture and complex flavour. Today I wanted an easy tasty salad for lunch so I used chilli flakes, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted sesame seeds to bring out the nuttiness of the freekeh. Its also really versatile and could be used in place of couscous, whole grain rice or quinoa so next time I'm going to use it as a basis of a tabbouleh, as well as this Ottolenghi pilaf recipe which sounds really delicious. 

I'd love to hear what you think of freekeh and if you have any great recipes for it!





Freekeh Salad with Feta and Sesame
Serves 2-3

100g freekeh, soaked for 5 minutes
2 handful's of frozen broad beans
1 medium courgette, sliced very thinly on a mandolin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp chopped chives
smoked salt, to taste (optional)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp pine nuts
100g feta, crumbled
rocket leaves

Drain and rinse the freekeh and add to salted boiling water, simmer for 15-20 minutes until cooked through but retaining some bite. Drain and refresh with cold water.

Whilst the freekeh is cooking cover the broad beans with boiling water and leave for a minute or two. Drain and refresh with cold water then slip each of the broad beans out of their white jacket and set aside.

In a large bowl make the dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, chilli flakes, chives, smoked salt (or normal salt if you don't have this) and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Add the courgette and broad beans to the dressing and leave to marinate until the freekeh is cooked.

Once cooked add the warm freekeh to the courgettes and broad beans and mix thoroughly so that it absorbs the dressing. Check for seasoning and flavour and add more salt, pepper, chilli or lemon until it tastes bright and zingy.

In a small dry frying pan toast the pine nuts until golden brown and then add the sesame seeds for 30 seconds until they smell nutty and toasted. Mix the sesame seeds and pine nutsin to the freekeh.

Arrange the rocket on a platter, top with the freekeh mixture and the feta cheese and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.