Roast Vegetable & Freekeh Salad

Roast Veg & Freekeh Salad
As the weather starts to warm up and teeny tiny seedlings start to sprout, a sense of anticipation rises all around me. Visions of long, hot summer nights on the porch, sipping gin and tonics and doing nothing in particular are just an arms length away and yet we are not quite there. We are in a tricky point of the season, the changeover if you will. Glorious sunny spring days make way for chilly nights and grabbing a jumper or warm jacket as I leave in the morning is still a necessity, even if I fling it off later in the day. It is warm in the sun but cool in the shade, the cold rain still falls and we’ve not yet been able to trade the flannel sheets for the cool cottons. A trip to the farmers markets at this time of year can be tricky, a formidable lack of inspiration abounds. As I load yet another haul of cauli’s, cabbage and broccoli into the basket I long for the subtle crunch of my first load of shelling peas and the juicy aroma of fresh asparagus. My instinct tells me they are not far away so for the time being I must enjoy what is left of the winter harvest.

Freekeh may be a new addition to your vocabulary after this post and I hope you will give it a shot. I am always playing around with different grains, something to break the monotony of pasta and rice and Freekeh has provided me with a nice alternative. Freekeh (pronounced Free-ka) is an ancient grain that is popular in Middle Eastern dishes, it is made from green wheat and has a warm, nutty flavour, similar to pearl barley and can be used in place of brown rice or pasta. I am told it is low in carbs and GI and quite high in fibre, too. To prepare Freekeh is really very easy, simply cook it in the same way you would rice or pasta, boil the water, pop it in and cook until soft. I’ve found lightly toasting the grains before adding water adds a lovely richness to the grains, and cooking in vegie stock means you can go easy on the salt at the final stages of serving.

In this dish I have combined the rich, nutty grains with some golden roasted vegies; salty, briny olives, preserved lemon and some deeply toasted almonds. Each mouthful was a joy with an ever-changing array of flavours and textures, much like that of a glorious, early spring day. You could very easily mix this up to create your own version, perhaps using pearl barley or brown rice in place of the freekeh, maybe pumpkin or sweet potato in place of the cauli and parsnip. A lashing of feta cheese would not be out-of-place here, either. Enjoy.

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Roast Vegetable & Freekeh Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Freekeh is an ancient grain that has a gorgeous nutty texture and flavour. It can be substituted with pearl barley or even brown rice if you prefer.
Recipe type: Salad, Main
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 3-4
  • ½ cup freekeh, rinsed and picked over to remove any debris
  • 1.5 cups good quality vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbspn cumin seeds
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ large cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 parsnips - peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 chargrilled red capsicums (I bought mine at the deli section of the supermarket), cut into slivers
  • 8-10 kalamata olives, pips removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbspns tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ preserved lemon
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Add freekeh to a medium-sized pot, over a low-medium heat.
  3. Gently toast until fragrant.
  4. Add the stock and stir well, turn up to a high heat.
  5. Put the lid on and bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and cook with the lid on for 15-20, check every now and then and stir. You may need to add a little more stock towards the end.
  7. Freekeh is cooked when it is soft to the bite.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the heat, drain any extra liquid and then put the lid on to steam for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water.
  10. Meanwhile, prepare vegies for roasting and place in a large roasting pan.
  11. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil. Coat everything well and then put in the oven to roast, checking every now and then.
  12. Roast until tender and golden - approx 30 minutes.
  13. Allow to cool and then put in a large salad bowl with capsicum and olives and combine well.
  14. Add the tahini, lemon juice, preserved lemon and almonds to the freekeh, stir well to combine and then combine with the roast vegies.
  15. Add the coriander and mint and stir through well.
  16. Taste and check seasoning and adjust where needed, you might need to add some more lemon, tahini or even a splash of olive oil.
Feel free to use whatever vegies you have on hand. You could add some feta, chickpeas or even haloumi if you'd like to add some extra protein as well.


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