I love middle eastern flavours and was very excited when I came across a picture Bethany Kehdy had posted on Facebook last October of her lunch, a yummy bowl of Freekeh salad. Bethany is a food writer over at Dirty Kitchen Secrets. Her blog is packed with delicious recipes, including treasured dishes from her Lebanese heritage. She has recently launched her book, The Jewelled Kitchen, full of Middle Eastern and North African recipes that will certainly impress your guests.
Bethany’s dish contained all my favourite ingredients, roasted aubergines, warm nutty freekeh and soft sweet butternut squash. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to recreate something similar with whatever I could find in my kitchen cupboards. Luckily for me, I am a big fan of middle eastern flavours so I knew this wouldn’t be difficult. I have since made this dish for friends and relatives and they love it too.
You can find Freekeh in most middle eastern shops. I bought mine online from Terra Rossa. The company sells a vast range of unique food products from Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Freekeh is a healthier alternative to rice and breads, and imparts a wonderful nutty smoky flavour to any dish. It is low GI, so healthy too.
- 1 large aubergine
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 sprig rosemary, cut up into three
- salt and pepper,
- 1tsp baharat spice powder, or garam masala
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 200g freekeh
- handful of pumpkin seeds
- big chunk of feta cheese, crumbled over the salad
- 1 tbsp of dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
- Preheat oven 200C and line a deep baking tray with foil.
- Peel and skin the butternut squash and cut up into cubes before throwing on to the lined baking tray.
- Cut up the aubergine in fairly large chunks and add to the tray. Throw in some rosemary and generously season with sea-salt, freshly ground pepper and baharat spice powder or garam masala. Lightly coat the ingredients with olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes or until fully cooked.
- While the vegetables are roasting, cook the freekeh as per the instructions on the packet. It will probably take between 20 to 40 minutes depending on whether you are using cracked or wholegrain freekeh. I sautéed mine in olive oil, salt and baharat spice for a couple of minutes before simmering for the required amount of time. You may need to add more water if it begins to dry out.
- Place the cooked freekeh on the plate, add the aubergine, butternut squash and all remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve hot.