Jammed packed with wholesome grains, nuts and seeds and with added rainbow chard and herbs to balance the freshness, this is a delicious vegetarian salad ready to be devoured.
Why I Love Rainbow Chard Salad with Freekeh and Pistachios
I love grain salads. The earthy wholesome flavours with nutty texture brings so much joy when eating. Plus it is a great way to use up what you might have in your pantry.
Although Rainbow Chard Salad with Freekeh and Pistachios technically only uses one grain, I added a good mixture of nuts, seeds, herbs and dried fruit that delivers a similar feel. Whilst the rainbow chard and cherry tomatoes provide freshness and another layer of texture.
A great freekeh recipe for the lunchbox as well as bringing a salad to a potluck party because you can prepare in advance and easily transported.
How To Cook Rainbow Chard?
When I head out to the farmers market, I am always in awe of the different fruit and veggies available in season.
I somehow feel the colours of the vegetable stalls are so much more intense than supermarket shelves. Greens are deeper, yellows are brighter.
And when you catch a rainbow in the corner of your eye, you have to check it out. Tied tightly together were bunches of vibrant rainbow chard. I just adored the brilliant colours and had to give them a go.
The leaves of rainbow chard felt firm and waxy, reminding me of silverbeet. Whilst the stalks felt a bit like choy sum (Chinese leafy green mustard vegetable).
Can you eat rainbow chard raw? You can for sure. Most commonly is to finely chop the leaves and stalk and add it to salads.
I did try the leaves and stalks raw but did not enjoy it as much as when cooked. Plus the texture of the leaves was a little too waxy. So for me, the preference was to cook slightly before adding to a salad.
An easy way to soften the rainbow chard is to blanche the leaves and stalks. It also takes the mineral edge off the leaves. You can then add it to a quiche or omelette. Rainbow chard goes well with creamy flavours. A simple but full flavoured lunch.
Another popular way to cook rainbow chard is a quick stir-fry or saute with garlic and butter. Perfect as a side dish for a roast dinner.
Cooking rainbow chard will dull the colours but you can still see the beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange in the dish. You can see how well it worked out in our Purple Kale Salad with Rainbow Chard.
What Is Freekeh?
I often spell this word wrong because of the way you pronounce it – free-kah. Made from durum wheat, the grain is 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 healthy? Definitely. Cooked freekeh is free from saturated fat and sodium plus low in calories. It also has 3 times more fibre and nearly double the amount of protein than brown rice.
Is freekeh gluten free? No. Freekeh is derived from wheat, therefore it is not gluten free.
This ancient grain has made a resurgence in modern cooking due to its versatility and nutritional benefits.
Fantastic in salads but freekeh is also delicious in soups, stews and of course by itself to accompany delicious main meals.
How to Make Rainbow Chard Salad with Freekeh and Pistachios
How to Cook Freekeh Perfectly
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 Cook Rainbow Chard
You can eat raw rainbow chard in salads but I do prefer the stalks to be a little more tender so for this recipe, I blanched them briefly to soften.
Wash rainbow chard thoroughly and cut stalks and leaves into approximately 2 cm pieces.
While the freekeh is cooking, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil.
Add the rainbow chard and boil for 2 minutes. Drain from the saucepan and run under cold running water to stop the rainbow chard from further cooking.
Pat dry and set aside for assembly. You want to have tender stalks but not so soft that it doesn’t hold in the salad.
For this recipe, if you can’t locate rainbow chard you can substitute with kale but it won’t be as colourful!
Prepare the Salad
Wash cherry tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise.
Wash and chop 2 sprigs of spring onion into 0.5cm rounds.
Roughly chop pistachio kernels and almonds.
Over a medium-hot heat, toast pistachio kernels, 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.
How to Assemble Rainbow Chard Salad
This is literally throwing everything in a bowl and toss.
In a large mixing bowl, add rainbow chard, freekeh, spring onion, pistachio kernels, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and dried cranberries. Mix together.
Dress with extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Season with salt and cracked pepper.
Pomegranate molasses can be found in many Middle Eastern grocery stores. It is basically pomegranate juice that has been reduced down into a syrup. I love the richness of flavour and sharp tartness it brings to salads.
Pomegranate molasses substitutes can be tricky because I don’t think there is an equivalent!
I think the easiest would be balsamic glaze or fig glaze that you can purchase at the supermarket. It will be sweeter than pomegranate molasses but still tangy enough for the salad.
Taste salad and see if flavours need adjusting. If you prefer slightly more tart in your salads, add another teaspoon of pomegranate molasses.
Transfer to a pretty serving bowl for the table. I chose a bright orange dish for my salad and the clash of colours worked! A Moroccan style bowl would be perfect too – giving a nod to North African origins of freekeh.
So easy to prepare in advance and easily transported. The rainbow chard and freekeh will hold over time and if anything will benefit from absorbing the dressing of olive oil and pomegranate molasses.
Our Rainbow Chard Salad is a perfect side salad with stews or tagines to help cut through the richness but also absorb the delicious sauces. Nutty and earthy flavours combined with edgy rainbow chard, a delicious and colourful vegetarian addition to the table.
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Rainbow Chard Salad with Freekeh and Pistachios
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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. When done, drain the freekeh in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for assembly.
- Wash rainbow chard thoroughly and cut stalks and leaves into approximately 2 cm pieces. Bring a medium sized saucepan of water to the boil. Add the rainbow chard and boil for 2 minutes. Drain from the pot and run under cold running water to stop the rainbow chard from further cooking. Pat dry and set aside for assembly.
- Wash cherry tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise.
- Wash and chop 2 sprigs of spring onion into 0.5cm rounds.
- Roughly chop pistachio kernels and almonds.
- Roughly chop parsley.
- Over a medium-hot heat, dry toast pistachio kernels, almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas in a medium sized fry pan until lightly brown. It will take about 1-2 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, add rainbow chard, freekeh, spring onion, pistachio kernels, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, parsley and dried cranberries. Mix together.
- Dress with extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses.
- Season with salt and cracked pepper.
- Taste salad and see if flavours need adjusting. If you prefer your salad more tart, add another teaspoon of pomegranate molasses.
- Transfer to a pretty serving bowl for the table.
- If you can’t find rainbow chard, you can substitute with kale but it won’t be as pretty in colours.
- The mix of nuts and seeds can vary. You can substitute with what you might have in your pantry.
- Pomegranate molasses can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores but otherwise pomegranate molasses substitute that could work is balsamic glaze. Pomegranate molasses is slightly more tart than balsamic glaze so you may need to adjust flavours.
- Can prepare salad in advance and be easily transported.
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