freekeh salad with hot-smoked salmon, pomegranate and feta

saladThere’s been a lot of talk about ancient grains recently. A LOT of talk. And by talk, I’m referring to virtual obsession… on the internet, in restaurant menus, in burgers, breads, cakes and breakfast cereals.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. In fact, I’d happily state the opposite. Ancient grains are ridiculously good for you, they’re less refined and generally more nutritious than modern, over-processed grain products. They’re also frequently grown in an organic and sustainable manner, which is much better for the soil and the environment in general.

Yep, it’s all good.

veg

But rather than spending the rest of this post harping on about ancient grains (I’ll let those more qualified do that) I’m going to narrow down to one particular type of grain that I’ve recently fallen in love with: freekeh.

Technically, freekeh (“free-kah”) is a term given to any grain that is harvested, sun-dried, roasted and threshed whilst still green. In Australia, most available freekeh is currently made from durum wheat, however companies such as Greenwheat Freekeh in South Australia are currently working to produce green triticale and barley for commercial sale.

freekeh

Due to its early harvest, green freekeh contains more protein, vitamins and minerals than mature wheat and other grains. It is also higher in fibre whilst having a lower glycaemic index (GI), which means it’s great for management of diabetes.

Freekeh has been a staple part of Middle Eastern and North African cuisine for centuries, most commonly used in side dishes (like pilafs), stews and soups. It’s a wonderful, natural alternative to pasta or rice, with a slightly nutty flavour and crunchy texture.

My favourite way to consume freekeh is in a fresh, textural salad full of green herbs, nuts and seeds, great olive oil and sweet pops of fresh or dried berries. I’ve tried many over the past two years and I’ve loved most of them, the stand-outs being those that incorporate soft labne or goats curd, pomegranate arils and toasted nuts.

pombetter

The recipe that I’ve included below was a rather impromptu creation; the result of extreme hunger and some after-work fridge foraging (hence why some of the photographs were taken after dark; darn that yellowish tinge). Luckily, I had a beautiful Tasmanian hot-smoked salmon fillet on hand, alongside half a zucchini, broad beans, some organic freekeh and my favourite goats feta.

It all came together in a matter of minutes, discounting the ‘inactive cooking time’ required for wholegrain freekeh (about 45 minutes, which I spent drinking a Hendricks gin and tonic).

broadbeans2

When seasoning this salad, keep in mind that the salmon retains a lot of saltiness from the curing and smoking process. You’ll only need a little bit of salt to balance the rest of the dish.

However, if you generally avoid smoked fish, feel free to omit the salmon completely or substitute chunks of fresh seared salmon as desired. Whichever way, it’ll be delicious.

plate2

Freekeh and Herb Salad with Hot-Smoked Salmon, Pomegranate and Feta

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main meal

  • 180g hot-smoked salmon fillets (preferably plain or peppered, not flavoured) roughly torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup wholegrain freekeh, rinsed
  • 1 cup broad beans (fresh or frozen are fine), double-podded
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, washed and diced
  • 1 cup washed and coarsely chopped mint, coriander and parsley leaves
  • a big handful of washed baby spinach leaves
  • About 60g marinated feta, chopped or broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup toasted, crushed nuts (I used almonds but pistachios or pine nuts would be wonderful)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils) – about 1/2 large pomegranate
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • juice from 1/2 lemon + 1-2 tsp finely grated rind
  • 3-4 tsp Brookfarm lemon myrtle infused macadamia oil
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses, or to taste

Place freekeh into a pot over high heat with 2 1/2 cups boiled water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 40 minutes or until the grains are softened but intact (they should still have a bit of ‘bite’ to them). Transfer to a large bowl, then set aside to cool slightly.

Heat 1 tsp Brookfarm lemon myrtle infused macadamia oil in a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and cook until slightly translucent. Add broad beans to the pan and continue cooking until the vegetables are light golden.

broadbeans

Transfer to the same bowl as the freekeh (add any cooking juices that have collected in the pan).

Mix the lemon juice and rind, the rest of the Brookfarm oil, pomegranate molasses and sherry vinegar in a small bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl (reserve a bit of feta and some pomegranate arils to garnish, if desired), drizzle over the dressing and mix well.

mix

Serve on a platter, garnished with the reserved feta and arils. Drizzle with a little more Brookfarm oil or pomegranate molasses if desired.

This salad is beautiful on its own, as a barbecue accompaniment or just wrapped in warm, fresh flatbreads with a smear of homemade hummus (perfect for lunch).

brookfarm

Disclaimer: Brookfarm supplied me with a sample of their lemon myrtle infused macadamia oil for the purpose of this recipe post. However, I was not compensated and as always, all opinions are my own.

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82 responses

  1. Freekah is hot- I was just looking to try it myself. Ancient grain is last year’s kale. This looks like a tasty recipe alright- you always come up with some good combos.
    The yellowish tint isn’t so bad at all. But if you have Lightroom you can make it a little cooler and lessen the overhead kitchen light. I love Lightroom. I’ve been taking some last minute shots on my stove top with just the hood lights that are whiter. Sort of works too:)

    • Hm, maybe I need to invest in Lightroom. I edited as much as I could via Photoshop but still wasn’t completely happy with the end result. I don’t mind the yellowish tinge so much but it’s not consistent with the style that I prefer. Definitely try the freekeh, I loved it. So easy to prepare, you just need to make sure you put the pot on to boil before you do anything else! I’d also like to try soaking it overnight some time. Thanks for the comment Wendy! xx

      • I’ll second Lightroom – I love it. My photos are just not the same without it, though it is a bit of an investment of finances and of time.

  2. This is remarkably similar to a freekeh salad I made recently! Though I had BBQ chicken as opposed to smoked salmon! Such a delicious grain and I love the texture it brings to a warm salad!! Looks gorgeous Laura!

    • You’re completely right Johnny. I was trying to refrain from making jokes about ‘getting freekeh’ but I was significantly tempted! Hope you can buy it where you are soon. If not, mail order?? It’d be worth it!

    • Thanks Joanne! Haha, I often wish I had my own private jet to eat with blogging friends around the world… so much good food. Hm, we need to find a rich benefactor to fund our travels :)

  3. Anything with pomegranate in it is OK in my book. Particularly salad — this looks terrific. Love the inclusion of the hot-smoked salmon, too. This is just a well-conceived dish. Thanks.

    • I definitely agree John, I love pomegranates! They’ve become a bit of a favourite… I do need to try your grenadine recipe (soon!). Thanks for the kind words.

    • The camera is fantastic, even low light pictures are turning out much better than the ones taken with my previous point-and-shoot. Despite the extra cash involved, I am very glad for the DSLR :) Thanks for the kind words lovely xx

  4. Love Freekeh. Love eating it, love saying it. I’m a freak for freekeh. Also, find it freaking amazing that I can buy it as Coles and Woolies. Also, love a meal that comes together in just enough time for one to enjoy a cocktail. (Best to do the fridge foraging before the cocktail though… in my experience). Let’s just say I pretty much love this salad and leave it at that.

    BTW: Check the white-balance on your camera – orange tinge be gone. (Not trying to be bossy, just helpful).

    • Yeah, it’s super convenient to buy superfoods these days, including ancient grains. Booyah. Thanks for the white balance tip, hm… I have no idea about those sorts of things but I will do a bit of reading and (if all else fails) ask the husband. Yay for ‘cocktail time’ whilst the meal cooks… my favourite part of the day xx

    • Haha, gee that was great timing! Definitely try freekeh, it’s got a deliciously chewy texture and a smoky, nutty taste that goes wonderfully in salads. I’m going to try it as an exchange for rice some time soon! xx

  5. A beautiful combination of ingredients. I quite like freekeh ( after George Colombaris did a Cypriot salad that was popular a year or so ago.) and I love Farro – not trendy but completely normal in Italy, especially around Lucca. But I am so over quinoa in everything that moves. It may be healthy but it is flavourless and its texture is unpleasant. I might start an anti quinoa movement. Thanks for this lovely recipe.

    • I’ve heard about George’s salad but I haven’t tried it yet. Sounds delicious! Farro is another great addition to the dinner table… I’ve only tried it once but I’m on the look out for more stocks near me (doesn’t seem to be as readily available over here). And I get you re quinoa. It’s been overdone, which is a shame as I do actually like it! Go you… start the movement, I’m sure you’d have plenty of followers! xx

  6. I love seeing the results of your fridge foraging! And with such beautiful results. Love it that you just have these ingredients in your fridge. I do the same re fridge foraging, but some days it’s down to the tried and true pasta with anchovies and white wine (with extra for the chef). Not quite the same, lol.

    • Haha, yep I keep all sorts of things in my refrigerator! Very good for weeknight dinners or just ‘snack time’ (which could strike at any time of the day or night!). The pasta with anchovies and white wine sounds divine. I’ve got to try that! xx

  7. You sure have a great pantry for the results of foraging to be this beautiful. As always the food have been put together with so much thought! Beautiful salad Laura. I love every single ingredient that went into making this.
    If you hadn’t mentioned the yellow in the photos I doubt if it was noticeable. It’s actually adding a warm effect to the whole scene. Love it!

    • Awww, thanks Sonali! That makes me feel a bit better. I might need to invest in Lightroom though, sounds like everyone loves it! And yes, I habitually buy ingredients I like and bung them in the fridge, so I’m always well set for a fridge forage! xx

  8. Ditto Patty above–you make the pomegranate arils look like rubies! You always make the most wholesome, delicious-sounding recipes and this is no exception. I’ve been somewhat on a rice kick lately, but this was a nice reminder there are other whole seeds + grains that are just as delicious if not more so–and variety is always a good thing! That article on ancient grains was so interesting–you have me totally into ancient grains right now! Love it!!!

    • Naw, you are way too lovely Erika! Thanks for the kind words, I definitely agree that there’s a whole world of grains to discover (that sounds really corny but it’s true!). I love rice. I’ve been loving your rice kick too… particularly brown rice, I’ll love it forever. Thanks so much xx

  9. Oh Laura, What a truly amazing freaking deliciously looking seasonal salad, …..OOOh yes! I would like to digg in straight away.
    Very beautiful pics too. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ x

  10. I’ve never tried freekeh but you make me want to. My big bro told me a little while ago of some University somewhere in England that was cultivating ancient grains and people could purchase small quantities of them to grow and mill themselves. I have a brain like a sieve so I can’t remember any of the useful points of that little fact, but it seemed quite interesting at the time ;)

    I would kill for some of that salmon right now. Don’t worry, I’d knock off someone fairly insignificant, possibly non-human. Maybe just a carrot or something. I would murder a carrot for that salmon. It doesn’t sound terribly complimentary and I have a feeling I’m rambling, but I do really really love the look of your dish! x

    • Oh, I’d love to grow some of my own ancient grains… though living in Australia, they’d probably die within five minutes (my herb garden is currently on its last legs, so sad!). Re the carrot, that’s a very… uh, cruel thing to say. Trix!! No life is insignificant, even an orange rod of cellulose and beta carotine…! I’d send the carrot police after you, but I don’t think they exist. Probably because no one cares about carrot homicide. Sad, sad world. Poor carrots. Actually, I just ate one with some hummus and dukkah. And it was good. Now, salmon? xx

  11. I love recipes that use smoked salmon! Love the idea of using it in a salad, together with pomegranates! What a good, healthy meal it is! I wish I had this for lunch at work today instead of a couple of slices of cheddar cheese I just ate. :)

    • It’s such an easy way to eat fish, isn’t it? I’m loving hot-smoked salmon at the moment, it’s a little more substantial than eating the more traditional gravlax/smoked salmon. Mmm, cheese. I had a raisin bagel (at work, with coffee). I would’ve rathered some of this salad, too! xx

  12. I am a HUGE salad lover and I also love experimenting with flavours and this salad has got it nailed as far as I am concerned Laura, it’s BIG on flavours and is BIG of looks, just so PRETTY and evidently very tasty too! Karen

  13. Oh, Laura! This sounds insanely delicious! Yay for successful fridge forages – sometimes they yield the very best creations! :D I’ve been doing A LOT of experimenting with freekeh lately, so I especially enjoyed this post! I actually didn’t know that freekeh could technically be made from grains other than wheat – really interesting! Here in Ohio, it’s still not super easy to find, and my blogging bud and I have held off a bit on publishing any recipes for it. Huh! Maybe the time is right! I love its nutty, satisfying chewiness and have prepared it in both savory and sweet salads – so scrumptious (and healthy)!

    • Hello Shelley! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, despite some of the difficulties you encountered. Hopefully you found the information included in my email to be beneficial in your continued freekeh experiments! So nice to have another blogging friend xx

  14. I’ve never heard of freekeh! Have you heard of Sorghum, whole grains from India? not sweet sorghum for molasses . . but Bob’s Red Mill has a whole grain sorghum that I have fallen in love with . . anyway, this dish looks amazing!!! And hey, some of the best meals are impromptu creations. . love it. . I do this all the time. . and wow, I’ve got to try that macadamia oil. . I love infused oils! yum!

    • No, I haven’t heard of sorghum other than the sweet one! We do get a few Bob’s Red Mill products at the market I go to, I’ll have to look out for the whole grain sorghum. Definitely try freekeh if you get a chance, I’ve fallen in love with it. And yep, go the fridge foraging. It’s a lifesaver when hunger strikes! x

  15. All kinds of yumminess going on in this salad! I’m a huge fan of ancient grains myself… so nice to have options that are a lot more interesting than your typical rice (which I still like- don’t get me wrong!) etc. etc. Great combination of flavors you have going on in there too. Now I will be thinking about this for the rest of the day ;)

    • Thanks Em, they’re great aren’t they? So much variety to choose from. I’m hoping to try some farro next, I’ve had little joy in finding it in my local market so far. Thanks for the kind words lovely x

  16. I’ve finally snaffled some me-time and am catching up on some serious blog-reading this morning (in a quiet house, bliss). So happy to be here, reading your lovely blog again! You’ve been up to some culinary marvelousness Laura. This salad looks so beautiful; and contains some of my fave ingredients (hot smoked salmon, broad beans and a side of Hendricks)! I’m also a huge freekeh fan – it sure can’t be beaten for nutrients. That pomegranate aril photo is just beautiful; like little jewels!

    • Oh Saskia, we are definitely meant to be friends! Hendricks is my all time favourite, we need to have G&T’s together one day! Thanks for the sweet words. I do remember your freekeh posts also, very yummy stuff. I’ll be sad when pomegranates finally disappear for a while. They’ve become firm favourites xx

  17. You’ve converted me Laura! I’m actually yet to try this ingredient. Like you it’s been snapped, blogged, talked about etc, but obviously for good reason because of it’s health benefits. I love the look of that delicious pomengranate too. Middle eastern flavours & pomegranate just go together of course! I’m with you regarding that (damn!) fading light. Old daylight savings must be just around the corner, that’s yay for sleep ins, boo for darker evenings ;)

    • Haha… we don’t have daylight savings here in WA. Our population is too conservative (something about fading curtains and cow milking times) so it’s the same all year around! Definitely agree re the Middle Eastern flavours. I’m obsessed at the moment. That’s not an exaggeration, either! Cannot wait to see your new revamped blogspace. Missing the Alice goodness at the moment! xx

      • Thanks Laura! I agree that in the warmer climates you certainly don’t need daylight savings. So much beautiful sunshine! I’m thrilled to tell you the Alice goodness is back on line, as of this morning!

        I’ve been rolling out the new site across my social media (slowly!) as the new features go live. Feel free to take a look around :)

  18. I am loving freekah at the moment! It tastes so wholesome and I love the chewy texture. And also love that you have used some salmon from my neck of the woods ;) I will have to give this dish a go :)

    • The Tassie salmon is so beautiful! Definitely something I’ll be using again… it went really well with the freekeh and the feta. Thanks for stopping by to comment. Love your blog, it’s gorgeous xx

    • Haha… if I was in freezing cold temps like you, I’d be eating cinnamon rolls too! You definitely make up for it in summertime… I’m still dreaming about picking edamame from the garden with you and Matthew! x

    • Oh, definitely give it a go Maria! It’s a delicious grain. If you buy the cracked version it cooks in half the time (very convenient in this time-pressured world!). Thanks for the lovely words. I definitely concur on the learning aspect of blogging… you and the other bloggers I follow continually inspire and teach me things. It’s wonderful! xx

  19. I was just looking for ways to use some freekeh that I was sent recently! You have solved all of today’s problems. I’ll be sure to email you later this week with tomorrow’s for solving, ok?

    Ps, Looking at your beautiful photos makes me so excited to see what you make for your friends first post this month! Such gorgeous deliciousness.

    • Hahahaa… I don’t think I am the font of all knowledge, unless all of your questions concern ice cream (I love ice cream and consider it my duty to know everything, in case there’s like, an ice cream crisis or something). Cannot WAIT to be a part of Friend’s First! Thanks so much for asking me, you’re gorgeous. Love xxx

  20. Thanks for teaching me about freekeh! I’ve never heard of it and don’t even know if I can buy it around here, but I’ll definitely make this salad if I can. I looove smoked salmon and pomegranate arils, so I would love for this salad to be in my belly ASAP.
    Cheers!!

    • Ali! You and I should make this together. When you and Rob come visit me and Aaron. Deal?? I think we’d have a grand old time! Freekeh is a bit of an odd ingredient so I can understand why it’s not readily available where you are. Definitely feel free to substitute quinoa or even cous cous. I alternate grains according to what I have in the cupboard on a regular basis xx

  21. So behind on reading your gorgeous blog posts!! Freekah and pomegranates – now that’s a combination that I will have to try. Look at you teaching me about middle eastern food combinations!! I love freekah – most of the time it’s eaten here in a simple soup cooked with chicken pieces and some spices. So wholesome and filling on cold wintry day eaten with some crusty bread and labeneh crumbled on top.

    • You’re gorgeous! Hahahaa… you know way more than me about this sort of thing! I’ll have to try freekeh with chicken soup. No one seems to eat it that way over here… probably as we’ve discovered the grain and Westernized it immediately! Cultural collision… oh, I love the idea of the bread and labneh with it! Yum!! xx

  22. Pingback: Picnics and Caramelised Onion Foccacia « Laura's Mess

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