Freekeh with feta, roast tomatoes and herbs
I make this so often, I can unequivocally tell you that it tastes delicious, looks gorgeous and can be served in loads of different ways. If I’m feeding vegetarians it’s perfect, as it makes a wholesome main meal for them, and I might cook some meat or chicken to go with it for the carnivores. Use farro or other grains if you can’t get hold of freekeh, but for me its distinctive nutty flavour really makes this special, so it’s worth trying to get your hands on some.
Serves 4–6 (as a side)
200 grams cracked freekeh
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil
175 grams mixed cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red capsicum (pepper), chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
A generous pinch of cayenne pepper
150 grams greens (silverbeet, spring greens, beetroot greens, savoy cabbage or kale) thinly sliced
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
2 handfuls mint leaves, chopped
1 handful parsley or coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
200 g (7 oz) feta cheese, cut into cubes
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Put the freekeh in a saucepan and cover with 1 litre (4 cups) water. Add the salt and 3 teaspoons of the olive oil and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25–30 minutes or until the grains are tender. Most of the water should be absorbed by this time, but drain off any excess. Set aside in a sieve set over a bowl so the grains dry out a little and drain completely.
- While the freekeh is cooking, put the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the cumin and paprika, generously season with sea salt and black pepper, and drizzle with another 3 teaspoons of the olive oil.
- Toss to coat the tomatoes in the spices and oil, then roast for about 10 minutes or until the skins have burst and the tomatoes are just tender. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, warm the remaining 30 ml olive oil in a frying pan over medium–low heat and add the onion and capsicum. Gently cook for about 15 minutes or until the onion is golden brown and soft.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cayenne pepper, and cook for a couple of minutes until you can smell the tomato paste starting to caramelise.
- Add the greens and a splash of water and toss so all the ingredients are well combined. Reduce the heat to low, cover (use a baking tray if your pan doesn’t have a lid) and cook until the greens are just tender.
- To assemble, combine the freekeh with the onion and greens mixture, the lemon zest and most of the herbs.
- Tip out onto a serving platter and check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Gently fold in the feta, then arrange the tomatoes on top and spoon on any tomato juices left in the roasting tin.
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over the remaining herbs to serve.
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