Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins

We boil whole, uncracked freekeh like pasta to achieve a chewy and firm texture.

Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins
SERVES 4 to 6 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Freekeh is a commonly used grain across the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. We thought its grassy, slightly smoky flavor would work perfectly with sweet roasted winter squash as a hearty lunch or a light dinner. To replace hard-to-find or seasonally restrictive Mediterranean winter squashes, we chose widely available butternut squash. Roasting the squash resulted in lightly charred, beautifully caramelized edges; to give the squash more dimension, we paired it with fenugreek, a slightly sweet and nutty seed with a unique maple-like flavor. To bring all the elements together, we stirred in a rich yet bright tahini-lemon dressing. Chopped walnuts offered complementary crunch. We prefer the texture of whole, uncracked freekeh; cracked freekeh can be substituted, but you will need to decrease the freekeh cooking time in step 2.

1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
Salt and pepper
1½ cups whole freekeh
⅓ cup golden raisins
½ cup Tahini-Lemon Dressing
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
⅓ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss squash with oil and fenugreek and season with salt and pepper. Arrange squash in single layer in rimmed baking sheet and roast until well browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting; let cool to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add freekeh and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until grains are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain freekeh, transfer to large bowl, and let cool completely, about 15 minutes.
3. Combine raisins and ¼ cup hot tap water in small bowl and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes; drain raisins. Add squash, raisins, dressing, cilantro, and walnuts to bowl with freekeh and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Freekeh Pilaf with Dates and Cauliflower
SERVES 4 to 6 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS For a pilaf that accentuated freekeh ’s unique flavor and chew, we pai red it with pan-roasted cauliflower, warm spices and aromatics, and refreshing mint. We found that simply boiling the grain like pasta was the most foolproof cooking method to achieve a chewy, firm texture. Allowing the cauliflower to soften and brown slightly before adding the remaining ingredients to the pan was essential to creating the best flavor and texture. Studded with sweet dates and toasted pistachios, our pilaf was a hearty, healthful option for a unique side dish or satisfying lunch. We prefer the texture of whole, uncracked freekeh; cracked freekeh can be substituted, but you will need to decrease the freekeh cooking time in step 1.

1½ cups whole freekeh
Salt and pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into ½-inch florets
3 ounces pitted dates, chopped (½ cup)
1 shallot, minced
1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup shelled pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1½ tablespoons lemon juice

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add freekeh and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until grains are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain freekeh, return to now-empty pot, and cover to keep warm.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cauliflower, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, cover, and cook until florets are softened and start to brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until florets turn spotty brown, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, dates, shallot, ginger, coriander, and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until dates and shallot are softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low, add freekeh, and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in pistachios, mint, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with extra oil. Serve.

 

 

Salads

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