What a start to Spring in Sydney… first we were teased with glorious sunshine, and now it feels as if it’s Winter all over again! This salad is sort of the best of both worlds; warm, nutty freekeh paired with crunchy Spring vegetables. Sure, when it’s cold, we crave warm, slowly cooked food more regularly, but for the times you can’t be bothered spending two hours in front of the oven, or for when you’re desperate for that raw-food burst of energy, a warm salad like this one is a go-to in my book!
To the salad-uneducated, salad is boring, salad is a side dish and salad is a lunch time food… Wrong. When done right, there’s nothing better than diving into a big bowl of stuff covered in a delicious dressing and a liberal handful of herbs. A lot of people know this and have too attempted to inspire those unexcited by salads. So far, calling a delicious salad a ‘bowl’ and throwing an adjective in front of it seems to be working; Abundance Bowl, Nourishing Bowl… you get the drift. Call this what you please, but the proof is in the flavour and the simplicity.
It all starts with your choice of vegetables– a good mix of raw and cooked, a grain, some beans or sprouts for protein, some nuts or seeds for crunch, plenty of herbs and an amazing dressing. Making a dish like this is also a really good way to use up leftovers and bits and pieces from your fridge– sometimes I wrap leftovers into nori rolls too, but that’s a recipe for another day.
What makes this salad delicious is the combination of zesty lemon, a bold punch of garlic, peppery rocket, the slight nuttiness of freekeh and crunchy peas and sprouts. This combination perfectly marries the mindset of Winter with the Spring produce I’ve been seeing at the markets lately. September’s weather in Sydney makes it easy to see why you can buy peas and pumpkins at the same time… We’ve had highs of 28ºC and lows of 4ºC!
One of my favourite things to do is to peruse the isles of health food/wholefood stores, or bulk food stores. I’ve been known to spend a good hour in these types of shops, picking up various products and reading the entire packet, smelling things, asking questions and creating recipes in my head. I’ve only eaten freekeh a handful of times, but it’s a really delicious, slightly smoky, nutty-tasting grain and alternative to buckwheat, quinoa or cous cous. Freekeh is actually wheat that has been harvested when young and then roasted. Unlike regular wheat, freekeh packs a punch in its vitamin and mineral content and is quite high in protein too– 100g of freekeh yields approximately 12.6g of protein.
Of the minerals, freekeh is highest in Magnesium, which is essential for enzyme production (think digestion and the release of hormones) and is crucial in energy production, enabling the body to break down glucose into a useable form for energy. Magnesium is also required for the body to be able to metabolise calcium and is mainly stored in our bones. If you suffer from cramps after exercising, or pre-menstrually, Magnesium can help here too, as it regulates blood circulation and pressure.
- 1 cup freekeh, soaked overnight
- 2 zucchinis, peeled/cut into ribbons
- 200g snow peas
- 1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
- 1/2 cup mixed sprouts
- 1 cup rocket leaves
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1/2 bunch mint
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Rinse the soaked freekeh through a collander, then place into a medium saucepan with 1.5 cups water. Bring to boil, the simmer for 30 minutes. Freekeh will be soft, but will still have some chew to it.
- To make the dressing, combine the zest and juice of the lemon together with the olive oil, minced garlic clove and salt and pepper and set aside.
- Roughly chop the snow peas (I cut mine diagonally into strips), pull the mint leaves away from the stem, combine with the parsely (stems are okay here) and roughly chop the herbs too. Combine snow peas, herbs, rocket leaves, sprouts and peas in a big bowl, ready to mix with the remaining ingredients once they’re cooked.
- Cook the zucchini over a barbeque or griddle pan. Season the surface you’re using with a drizzle of olive oil, then spread out the zucchini ribbons and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook each side of the zucchini for about a minute and a half, then set aside.
- When the freekeh is cooked, add to the bowl along with the zucchini, then pour over dressing and give everything a good mix. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Top with chopped, roasted almonds and serve while warm.
You can also choose to roast he zucchini ribbons. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF/175ºC, then line a baking tray and evenly spread out the zucchini ribbons. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.