Asparagus and Freekeh Salad

Freekeh, if you haven’t come across it before, is roasted green wheat, with a nutty, often smoky flavour. It’s widely used in the Middle East and can be bought cracked, wholegrain and even ready-cooked.

It’s good in soups and salads and can substitute for rice or bulgur wheat in a pilaf. I’ve used it here as the basis for an asparagus salad, in a recipe only slightly adapted (with her permission) from Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana.

This works well as a summer lunch or as a side dish. I served it alongside a tomato and pepper salad, based this time on Felicity Cloake’s panzanella, but replacing her soft, silky bread with crunchy black olive croutons.

Asparagus and Freekeh Salad

  • Servings: 4 as part of a bigger meal
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Image of asparagus and freekeh salad

Ingredients:

90g freekeh, cooked according to packet instructions (or 250g sachet of pre-cooked)

400-500g asparagus, stems snapped where they bend

2 tbsp olive oil

125g ricotta

50g pistachio kernels, roughly chopped (optional)

For the dressing:

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tspn harissa paste

1 heaped tbsp runny honey

1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Rinse the freekeh and cook according to the packet instructions. These vary but the general rule of thumb is one part cracked freekeh to two and a half or three parts of salted water, cooked for 15-20 minutes until tender; wholegrain freekeh will need more water and take longer. It will roughly treble in weight once cooked.

Mix together the dressing ingredients. Once the freekeh is cooked and if necessary, drained, stir through two tbsp of dressing while it’s still warm and set the rest aside.

Image of asparagus of the griddle

Pre-heat a dry griddle pan to medium-high. Blanch the trimmed asparagus in lightly boiling water for one minute. Drain and run under cold water. Dry, then toss in a bowl with the two tbsp of olive oil.

Griddle in batches, turning often, until char marks appear, about four or five minutes. Cut into 3cm lengths, saving the tips for garnish.

Gently mix most of the asparagus into the freekeh. Spoon onto a platter, scatter the tips on top, and dot over teaspoons of ricotta. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with more of the dressing and finish with the pistachios, if using.

Image of Asparagus and Freekeh Salad

10 thoughts on “Asparagus and Freekeh Salad

  1. This is so beautiful. I actually had a freekeh salad yesterday at a restaurant, filled with fun goodies. We’re already out of asparagus season here, but I’ll adapt. If I can find freekeh, which I’ve never looked for before. Whenever I see the word I think of “Get Freeky!” Which I think was a disco song. Dating myself….

      • Oh yes – you know I love your recipes. I’ll sticky to freaky, and I’m probably the only person in the UK still saying Kin-oh-wa because it stil sounds better ;o)

      • I pronounced it quin-oh-ah for ages and I’m supposed to speak a bit of Spanish! I still have to think ‘keen-wah’ before I open my mouth. But then as a child I pronounce bedraggled as bed-raggled for some time … much more descriptive, I think. šŸ™‚

      • you know, I never associated it with Spanish – just assumed a grain would be middle eastern :S I used to think ‘looking like death warmed up’ was ‘death-worn duck’ … what a loon, even as a child!

      • I’m very partial to a bit of death-warmed duck, especially with a cherry sauce. Quinoa originates in the Andean region, hence the Spanish. I wonder what the Incas called it?

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