A delicious texture, our Freekeh Grain Salad is mixed with a whole lot of seeds, roasted beetroot, and fresh herbs. Add some preserved lemons to inject an intense salty lemony flavour. A hearty meal for any time of the week.
Why We Love Freekeh Grain Salad with Preserved Lemons
I am a big fan of grain salads. Feels like a hearty meal but not heavy at the same time. And they can be prepared in advance and easily transported. How good are they for work lunches?
The same goes for our Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad and Black Rice Salad with Purple Broccolini and Bacon Breadcrumbs.
In this Moroccan salad, I balance the nutty texture of freekeh and all the seeds with sweet roasted beetroot plus inject an intense salty sour flavour with preserved lemons.
Yoghurt dressings and grain salads are a match made in heaven. The tangy but creamy yoghurt dressing deliciously coats the grains, nuts and seeds and adds another layer of zingy edge.
Is Freekeh Gluten Free?
Made from durum wheat, the freekeh is harvested young and green and then roasted and rubbed to create the texture and flavour.
The name freekeh technically refers to the process of how the grain is made and not the type of grain it is.
Is freekeh gluten free?
No. Freekeh is derived from wheat, therefore it is not gluten free but super healthy with 3 times more fibre and nearly double the amount of protein than brown rice.
If you do need to find a gluten-free replacement for freekeh, try quinoa or farro.
Freekeh is easy to cook and has an earthy, nutty flavour. We love it especially in our Rainbow Chard Salad with Freekeh and Pistachios.
What are Preserved Lemons?
Whole lemons preserved in water, salt and lemon juice creates an intense end result with a unique salty, lemony and sour taste. Preserved lemons are the real flavour bomb.
Essential in Moroccan cooking, preserved lemons are used in many of their delicious lamb and vegetable tagines, plus chicken and fish dishes and of course in Moroccan salads.
Preserved lemons work a treat in grain salads as it helps balance the earthy, nutty flavours. The flesh of preserved lemon can be used in stews and sauces but it is the skin that is more popular as it carries most of the concentrated flavour.
Preserving lemons is not hard. Recipe is fairly simple. A great way to make use of lemon oversupply if you have a tree in the yard.
However it does take time to yield these salty sour morsels. Depending on the recipe, it takes a good 3-4 weeks for preserved lemons to be ready.
For this freekeh salad recipe, I used store bought preserved lemons. Nothing wrong with that! Sometimes we just have to leave certain things to the experts. Where to buy preserved lemons? Try your local Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores.
How to Make Freekeh Grain Salad with Preserved Lemons
How to Cook Freekeh
Bring to boil 2 cups of water. Add one cup of freekeh and boil it on medium heat for 35-40 minutes. Cooking time may vary so you may want to check the labels on the packaging.
When done, drain the freekeh and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for assembly.
How to Roast Baby Beetroot
For this recipe, I have used baby red and golden beets but large beets work as well. For larger beets, just cut them into bite-sized pieces after roasting.
Trim the green tops off the baby beets, give it a good wash, place in foil and season with salt.
Wrap foil parcel up tightly and roast in oven. This will take approximately 45-55 minutes in a preheated 180OC (350OF) oven. Smaller beets will cook a little faster so you may want to check after 30 minutes in the oven.
To check if the beetroot is tender, you can use a fork or skewer to pierce through it. Beets are done when you can slide the fork or skewer easily to the centre.
Remove beets from the oven.
After the beetroot has cooled down, peel the skin off. The sensible way to peel beetroots to avoid stains is to of course wear disposable gloves.
However, I don’t often have disposable gloves in the house so I just peel beetroots quickly under running water to avoid stains on my hands. Generally does the trick.
Cut the baby beets into halves or quarters depending on size. If you have used larger beets, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
How To Make The Salad
Over a medium-hot heat, toast pine nuts, chopped almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas in a dry pan until lightly brown. It will only take about 1-2 minutes.
Watch it carefully as the nuts and seeds will burn very quickly. I just want them lightly toasted to bring out the natural oils and add nutty flavours to the salad.
Wash and roughly chop coriander and parsley.
Remove preserved lemons from the jar and roughly chop into smaller pieces.
How to Make Sumac Yoghurt Dressing
In a small mixing bowl, add the plain Greek yoghurt, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, crushed garlic and sumac and mix well together.
Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice easily found in most spice sections at the supermarkets. Made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac bush, it has a slightly acidic taste and adds a delicious tangy flavour to the yoghurt dressing.
How To Assemble Freekeh Grain Salad
In a large mixing bowl, place freekeh, roasted beets, preserved lemons, dried cranberries and mixed seeds and nuts. Lightly mix together and toss in with chopped coriander and parsley.
Tumble into your serving bowl and drizzle half the sumac yoghurt dressing over the salad.
Leave the remainder of the sumac yoghurt dressing in a small bowl and serve. I prefer to not fully dress the salad so that people can adjust their own portions.
Full of texture and delicious flavours, our Freekeh Grain Salad With Preserved Lemons is fantastic by itself as a vegetarian lunch or accompanied with a warm rich lamb stew. A hearty meal for any time of the week.
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Freekeh Grain Salad with Preserved Lemons
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- Bring to boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Add one cup of freekeh and boil it on medium heat for 35-40 minutes. Cooking time may vary so you may want to check the labels on the packaging.Drain the freekeh in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for assembly.
- Trim the green tops off the baby beets, give it a good wash, place in foil and season with salt.Wrap foil parcel up tightly and roast in the oven for 45-55 minutes. Smaller beets will cook a little faster so you may want to check after 30 minutes in the oven. Remove beets from the oven. After the beetroot has cooled down, peel the skin off.
- Over a medium-hot heat, dry toast pine nuts, chopped almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas in a medium sized fry pan until lightly brown. It will only take about 1-2 minutes.
- Wash and roughly chop coriander and parsley.
- Remove preserved lemon from the jar and roughly chop into smaller pieces.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the plain Greek yoghurt, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, crushed garlic and sumac and mix well together.
- In a large mixing bowl, place freekeh, roasted beets, preserved lemons, dried cranberries and mixed seeds and nuts. Lightly mix together and toss in with chopped coriander and parsley.
- Tumble into your serving bowl and drizzle half the yoghurt dressing over the salad. Leave the remainder of the dressing in a small bowl and serve.
- You can use larger beets if baby beetroot is not available. Just cut them into smaller bite sized pieces.
- For gluten free options, replace freekeh with farro or quinoa.
- Sumac can be found in more spice sections at the supermarket or local grocery stores. However, if you can’t find it, it can be omitted.
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