Harissa Spiced Freekeh with Honey Roasted Vegetables

Late last year, I discovered a lovely grain that is now being hailed as a leader in 2014’s round of new ‘superfoods’- freekeh. Freekeh is a grain slightly similar to barley, but it can be a bit fiddly to cook with- the first time we used it we were a little freaked out by the smell it gave off once cooked. However, if you cook it correctly and pair it well, freekeh is absolutely delicious, and the perfect base for hearty, grain-based salads, like the one we have created here! This dish is so much more than a salad- the combination of chickpeas and freekeh make it filling, while it gets its spice from the North Africa spice paste, harissa. For this dish you will need the following:

For the freekeh:

– 1 cup freekeh, uncooked (we have used cracked and wholegrain, both to equal success- just alter the cooking instructions accordingly)

– 1 bay leaf

– 1 cup/can of chickpeas (we used dried chickpeas but feel free to use canned for convenience)

– 2 cups passata (for ours we simply blitzed up a can of san marzano tomatoes)

For the roasted/sauteed vegetables:

– 1 bunch tuscan kale, thinly sliced

– 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

– 1 brown onion, diced

– 3 purple carrots, cut into small pieces

– 1 large beet, cut into small pieces

– 1/3 sweet potato, cut into small pieces

– 3 tablespoons (approx) honey

– 2 tablespoons harissa

– 1 birds eye chili, diced

For the dressing:

– honey

– white wine vinegar

– harissa

– EVOO

– cilantro

Ok so I know that this seems like a fairly massive ingredients list, but it really isn’t! Many of these are pantry staples, and the roasted vegetables can easily be swapped for other root veggies you may already have lying around at home. Begin by putting the passata in a saucepan, and once it comes to a boil, add the freekeh and the bay leaf. While the freekeh is cooking, set the oven to 180 C.

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Cook the freekeh according to the directions on your packet (cooking time varies depending on whether it is wholegrain or cracked).

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Next, pop the chopped cauliflower, carrots and sweet potato onto a baking tray, and drizzle with the honey, harissa, and plenty of cracked pepper. Mix until the dressing is evenly spread across the veggies- you may need to add more honey or harissa. Pop into the oven for 15 or so minutes minutes, or until the veggies are cooked through and caramelized.

IMGP6240While the veggies are roasting and the freekeh is cooking away, sauté the onion in a pan over medium heat. Once the onion is translucent, add the kale and chili until the kale is tender and cooked through.

IMGP6244At this point, the freekeh should be cooked through, or almost done.

IMGP6242Finally, make your dressing. Start with EVOO as a base, about 5 tablespoons. Then add about 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of honey and about a tablespoon of harissa. Taste the dressing, see what you think- is it acidic enough? sweet enough? spicy? Adjust the levels of the different ingredients to your personal preference, and when you are happy with it, add a handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro and give it one, final good stir. Combine the roasted veggies, kale, freekeh and dressing in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add salt to taste, and serve!
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This is a healthy dish that packs a punch with its strong flavours- we hope you enjoy it as much as we do! This serving will make you tons, enough for at least a few meals. Enjoy!

– priya

IMGP6249Harissa Spiced Freekeh with Honey Roasted Vegetables