By Ellie Krieger
This salad tastes like spring waved a wand of freshness over an earthy, tender grain, turning a handful of practical, staple ingredients into a bright, versatile dish.
The grain here is freekeh, an ancient whole wheat that hails from the Middle East. It cooks up soft and fluffy, with a gentle chew and a light, toasty flavour, which is owed to harvesting the grain while it’s still young and green, and then roasting it over an open fire. You can use another grain if you can’t get hold of freekeh.
Served as a bed for, or alongside, some roasted chicken or lamb kebabs, topped with an egg or two, or as part of a mezze spread with hummus and cut vegetables, this is a satisfying salad that’s just right for the season
Grain Salad With Carrot, Herbs and Sesame Seeds (Serves 4)
1 cup uncooked freekeh, farro, barley or quinoa
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 cup coarsely grated carrot (from 1 large carrot)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook the freekeh (or farro, barley or a grain of your choice) in salted boiling water according to package directions, until al dente. Drain any excess liquid and refrigerate until the grain is chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.
In a dry pan over medium-high heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring often, until golden and fragrant and beginning to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the cooked grain, sesame seeds, carrot, parsley, mint and lemon zest into a medium bowl and toss until mixed. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and gently toss to coat.
Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author.