This Freekeh Salad makes a delicious Mediterranean/Middle Eastern lunch, and you can use the homemade sauce and baked cauliflower for various other dishes. One of my favorite salad recipes, this quick and easy grain bowl is versatile and so satisfying.
An ancient grain common in the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North Africa, freekeh is incredibly healthy – it’s packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The young green wheat also offers a unique smoky taste and makes a delicious alternative to classic grains like rice or quinoa. You might prefer the cracked version – cracked freekeh is broken into smaller pieces for texture (and so it cooks faster).
This easy whole-grain salad recipe pairs freekeh with a deliciously zesty sauce and spicy, tender baked cauliflower. You can serve the ingredients in a variety of different ways, so you’ll have leftovers for days. If you’re not already impressed with Freekeh’s ability to keep you full and energized, this salad’s tangy, nutty flavor will certainly keep you coming back for more. It’s an easy recipe that heightens your simple green salad to new levels!
What is Freekeh?
Freekeh (sometimes spelled as “freekeh” or “frikeh”) is a traditional Middle Eastern grain made from green durum wheat. To produce freekeh, the wheat is harvested when it is still young and green. It is then roasted, which removes the husks and imparts a distinct smoky flavor to the grain. Finally, the wheat is cracked or left whole and allowed to dry.
Freekeh is rich in fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. It has a chewy texture and a nutty, smoky taste, making it a versatile ingredient in many dishes. Freekeh can be used in salads, pilafs, soups, and stews or as a side dish. It is often compared to other grains like bulgur, barley, and farro in terms of taste and nutritional benefits. Freekeh is not gluten-free.
How to Make Freekeh Salad
1. Make the roasted red pepper, walnut, and tahini sauce:
Start by heating your oven to high broil. Arrange bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and let them broil in the oven for 10-12 minutes, turning them occasionally. Let the peppers cool, then remove their seed and any rough patches of skin.
Place the roasted peppers, walnuts, tahini, garlic, red wine vinegar, sugar, ground cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Bake the Cauliflower:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and a mix of your favorite spices (I used cumin, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and pepper). Transfer the coated cauliflower to the baking sheet (leave space between pieces). Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden at the top). Remove the cauliflower from the oven and let it cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
3. Assemble the salad bowls:
Place a scoop of cooked freekeh (cook according to package directions) in the middle of a large, shallow bowl. Add 1-2 cups of greens, cilantro, green onion, and bell pepper to one side of the bowl and your baked cauliflower to the other side. Top with a big scoop of the prepared red pepper sauce and slivered almonds. Enjoy!
How to Serve
This salad bowl is a hearty meal within itself. It pairs well with Mediterranean flavors, so feel free to try it with falafel or chicken gyro. You can also get creative and use the cauliflower and red pepper sauce for other dishes (i.e. use the cauliflower as a side dish with baked salmon, use the sauce on a rice bowl or even pizza).
Storage and Freezing
The salad greens should last in your fridge in an airtight container for a day or two, the cauliflower should last for 3-5 days, and the sauce should last for up to 1 week. Use the deconstructed salad in your meal prep for the week! You can also freeze the cauliflower for up to three months.
More Delicious Salad Recipes:
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Easy Spinach Salad with Apples
- Spiniach, Pear, and Feta Salad
- Waldorf Salad
If you try making this Freekeh Salad Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
For the Roasted Red Pepper, Walnut + Tahini Sauce-
For the Roasted Cauliflower-
- 1 head cauliflower - cut into bite size florets
- 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
- Mix of your favorite seasoning- I used cumin - turmeric, and chili powder
- salt + pepper
For the Salad:
- 1 cup freekeh - cooked according to package instructions
- Your favorite greens - I used baby spring mix
- 3 green onions - chopped
- ½ cup cilantro - chopped
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ½ red or yellow bell pepper - seeded and chopped
- 1 avocado
For the Roasted Red Pepper, Walnut and Tahini Sauce-
- Heat oven to high broil. Place bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally so that all sides are equally cooked. Allow bell peppers to cool, then remove seeds and any rough skin.
- Place roasted peppers and remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Serve with chips, smeared on your favorite sandwich, topped on a bed of grilled vegetables or in a Buddha bowl, and as a pizza sauce (trust me, it’s good!).
For the Cauliflower-
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and spices. Toss to coat. Transfer cauliflower to baking sheet, leaving space between each piece. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until cauliflower is fully cooked and golden on top. Remove from oven and allow time to cool while you build the rest of the salad.
Build the Salad-
- Place a scoop of cooked freekeh in the base of a large shallow bowl. Add desired amount of greens (usually 1-2 cups), cilantro, green onion and bell pepper on one side of the bowl and cauliflower on the other. In the middle, top with a big scoop of red pepper sauce and slivered almonds. Dig in!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)