Freekeh Salad with Courgettes, Pistachios & Lemon Dressing
There’s been a lot of gardening going on. My own garden is quite small but it’s surprising how much time it takes to tidy it after winter and plant some new shrubs and replant pots. I’ve also been helping Jonathan in their much bigger garden over the past two weekends. The young family are still a bit sleep deprived so gardening is one way to help, with the added bonus that I get Baby Gale cuddles and stay on for supper. Jonathan was going to make Mechoui Lamb. The shoulder of lamb could be smothered in spices and butter, covered in foil and put in the oven for 3 hours or more; no attention needed other than the foil to be removed for the last half hour. Perfect gardening food. I was to take a salad and so I decided to use freekeh. It has a nice middle eastern touch to go the the lamb, is full of goodness and wonderfully tasty. I was going to use it in much the same way I might use couscous or bulgur wheat and just add some vegetables and herbs. It’s nice to have some texture so I thought I’d add some toasted pistachios too. It was similar to the dish I first made when I found some freekeh in my local Revital store – for that recipe and more information on freekeh, click here. But while that was a warm dish, this new one was definitely a cold salad. I cooked the freekeh first as I wanted it to cool before adding the other ingredients. I put a cup into a small pan, followed by 2 cups of water and some salt. I brought it to the boil and then left to simmer with a lid on. It’s similar to cooking rice and the freekeh does look a bit like brown rice with a green tinge. The freekeh should be cooked in about 10-15 minutes. If there’s still some liquid drain it and then leave to cool. Meanwhile, cut two courgettes into cubes and fry gently in some olive oil until starting to brown. You don’t want to cook them too much because it’s best to retain some bite and not let the courgette become mushy. Remove from pan and put on a plate with some kitchen towel and allow to drain and cool. Now dry roast a handful of pistachios in a small pan. Again, just a little bit – don’t let them burn and become bitter. Then chop them roughly and set aside. Next I chopped some tomatoes into much the same size as the courgettes pieces. You want some really sweet and tasty tomatoes. I used small – but not cherry – Pome die Moro tomatoes which have a deep, good flavour but are quite firm for chopping. Also, chop about 3 or 4 spring onions into small slices. Now add the courgettes, tomatoes, spring onion and pistachios to the cooled freekeh and fold in carefully. Next chop some fresh herbs. I used flat-leaf parsley, basil and mint. You want quite a bit. Chop them roughly and add to the freekeh and mix well, but gently. For the dressing, squeeze the juice from 1 lemon and then add twice the amount of olive oil with some salt, pepper and a teaspoon of honey. Mix well and then add to the freekeh and gently fold in. I made this fairly early in the day and then put in the fridge before taking it round to Jonathan’s – and into their fridge while we gardened! It made a brilliant accompaniment to the lamb – which was delicious, the lamb falling off the bone, full of the flavour of the spices and beautifully moist and tender. It was just what we needed after all that weeding and pruning. As for the salad, I’m sure I’ll be making it – or similar versions – many times over the summer and it’s so full of goodness that it could be a simple meal on its own.