OK, first things first. What’s freekeh, you ask? Well, it’s an ancient form of wheat that’s harvested very young, resulting in superior nutritional content. The whole grain form of freekeh is chewy like barley, while the cracked grain variety is more like bulgur. But freekeh has a slightly smoky flavor all its own.
Freekeh is all the rage among chefs right now, but it’s been popular in the Middle East for centuries. While freekeh is known for being native to Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, most of the freekeh available in the U.S. right now is manufactured by an Australian company (go figure). If you want to dig a little deeper on freekeh, check out my new article on One Green Planet – it includes another good salad recipe.
Meanwhile I give you this freekeh salad with lots of my favorite things: cucumbers, mint, toasted pistachios, raisins and pomegranate molasses. I topped it off with some fat-free feta cheese. I think most fat-free cheeses stink (and not in the good stinky cheese way), but fat-free feta is actually quite good on salads. To make the salad vegan, just leave the cheese off (obviously!).
Freekeh Salad with Cucumber, Pistachios and Mint
3 cups cooked freekeh, whole or cracked grain (cooled after cooking)
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
1/4 cup sultana or golden raisins
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have it, make your own)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup fat-free or reduced fat feta cheese (optional; omit for vegan version))
Toss the freekeh with the cucumbers, pistachios, raisins, scallions and mint.
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper. Mix gently with the freekeh. Top with feta cheese, if desired.
Keeps for several days, but warm leftovers up to room temperature.