Antioxidant-rich pomegranate, capsicum and eggplant, teamed with plenty of herbs and the nutritionally dense freekeh, all add up to an extremely delicious superfood salad.
SKILL LEVEL EASY
1 cup freekeh
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 cm cubes and salted
2 capsicums, preferably different colours, cut into quarters lengthways and seeds removed
½ bunch of mint, leaves roughly chopped
1 small bunch of parsley, leaves roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, cut in half
½ cup almonds and pumpkin seeds, toasted and crushed
salt and pepper
2 tbsp soft white cheese – ricotta, goat’s cheese, quark or labna
For the dressing
½ tsp cinnamon
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
olive oil, to drizzle
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 15 minutes
Soak freekeh in water for at least an hour, overnight if you’re organised. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Bring to the boil in a large pot with 2½ cups water. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and simmer until the grain softens – it will retain its shape and remain slightly chewy, which makes it perfect in this salad. It should take roughly 45 minutes, add a little more water if necessary. When ready, drain and leave to cool.
While your freekeh is cooking, pat the eggplant dry and drizzle with olive oil in a large baking dish. Place under the grill with the capsicums, skin sides up – they will blacken and blister under the heat. Stir the eggplant occasionally so they will grill evenly. When soft and golden, remove both from the heat and place the capsicum in a plastic bag to sweat. Leave for 15 minutes and then remove, rinse under cool water and peel the blistered skin from the juicy flesh. Roughly chop.
In a large salad bowl mix the vegetables and herbs through the freekeh. Hold half of the pomegranate over the salad bowl, seeds facing down, and tap the back with a wooden spoon to release the seeds into your salad. Combine salad dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk, then mix through the salad along with the toasted nuts and seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the flavours to mingle before dolloping with your soft cheese and serving.
• You might be lucky enough to pinch a fresh pomegranate from a friend’s lovely garden this time of year, and the molasses – the syrup made from the fresh seeds (wonderfully sweet and sour) – is definitely worth the hunt in Lebanese grocers or good delis and health food shops.
• We used whole grain freekeh which will remain quite chewy when you cook it. You can buy cracked one, which will soften and require less cooking time.
Recipe from the blog Harvest by Gina Oliver and Meaghan Tarrant. Photographs by Julian Dolman.