Alright. So what exactly is freekeh?
It’s wheat, and the process the wheat undergoes is similar to bulgur wheat, but it’s picked earlier, hence it’s greener – and so it’s also known as ‘green wheat’. Freekeh is very popular in Syria – not surprising, it has a curious earthy, nutty, slightly smoky taste.
This salad has a very fresh, bright taste thanks mostly to the mint, but also to the celery. It goes very well with a creamy, mustardy chicken dish; or, because of the mint, also with lamb in which case add in a block of feta.
It keeps well in the fridge, undressed, for three or four days.
Recipe for a fresh freekeh salad
- 185 g/1 cup freekeh
- 25g/1 oz/1 small bunch flat leaved parsley, chopped – use also the top part of the stems
- half a small bunch of mint, leaves only, chopped
- 4 sticks of celery, including the leaves – destring and chop the stalks
- small bunch/ eight or so spring onions, trimmed and chopped – use about an inch/couple of cm of the green
- 1 x 240g/8 oz tin of chick peas, drained.
- juice and zest of a lime
- ½ tsp dry fried cumin seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar
- 8 tbsp/120 ml/½ cup olive oil
- 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- 6 grinds Indonesian long pepper
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 200g/7 oz feta (optional)
- Dry fry the freekeh in a saucepan with a lid for a couple of minutes and then add 240 ml/1 cup of water and the chicken stock cube.
- Bring to the boil, cover and simmer (if you have an Aga use the simmering oven) for about twenty minutes until the water is absorbed.
- Take off the heat, put a tea towel under the lid and leave for ten minutes or so, then leave, uncovered for a further ten minutes.
- Then, in a salad bowl, mix the freekeh, the chickpeas, the spring onions, celery stalks, parsley and mint. If you are using feta, crumble in at this point.
- Next make the dressing by mixing the garlic, oil, lime juice, and pepper.
- If you are making everything ahead you can add the lime zest and the cumin to the dressing, and mix the roughly chopped celery leaves into the salad. But if you aim to serve immediately dress the salad, garnish with the roughly chopped celery leaves and the lime zest, and, at the last minute, as people are sitting down, dry fry the cumin seeds, grind and empty over the salad. The aroma will fill the nostrils of you guests and encourage happy anticipation of what is to come.
Music to cook to as you chop and dress
Alright… stretching it a bit… freekeh to ‘Freak Out’, but hey…. below you have the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain performing Le Freak.