I don’t know about your family, but mine is getting a little fatigued with quinoa. I love the stuff but admit to serving it perhaps a little more often than they would like. That’s why I’m shaking up my summer menus with a new-to-me superfood: freekeh, also known as cracked green wheat. It’s an ancient grain that is high in fibre and has a low glycemic index. It’s as easy to work with and as versatile as bulgur, its close cousin; the only difference is that bulgur is prepared from fully ripened wheat. Bulgur is typically used to prepare tabouli (or tabbouleh), which was the inspiration for this new dish. This salad is so simple to prepare and is as delicious as it is nutritious. My husband tasted it and said it has “all the best flavours of Lebanese food” and I think that’s a pretty great description. We'll be fighting over the leftovers at lunch tomorrow for sure.
* you could also use quinoa, rice or barley in this recipe
Put cracked wheat in a medium saucepan along with 2 cups of water and the 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat then immediately reduce heat to low.
Simmer 15 – 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes. Put cooked freekeh or bulgur in a large bowl and let cool 10 minutes. At this point, you can refrigerate the cooked cracked wheat for up to four days until you are ready to prepare the salad.
While freekeh or bulgur is cooking, combine olive oil and minced garlic in a small microwave safe dish. Cook over medium-high power for 1 minute (this takes the harshness out of the garlic), then set aside and let cool.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake together lemon juice, crushed coriander, garlic olive oil (see above), salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if desired.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently once more.
When ready to assemble salad, combine cooked freekeh or bulgur, chopped herbs, celery and chickpeas in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing and toss again. Serve within the hour or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
While you can certainly serve the salad 'as is', considering taking a moment to plate it on beds of lettuce leaves - it makes it look so much fancier and people will think you really knocked yourself out to prepare it for them.
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top when serving really makes the salad’s bright, fresh flavour pop.