Monday, September 16, 2013

Spanish Style Freekeh Salad ~ Roasted Red Peppers, Toasted Almonds & Lemon

When the Freekeh Foods company contacted me telling me they'd ship me samples of their organic freekeh, I was excited to try it. They kindly suggested that I might feature a freekeh recipe or two on this blog if I liked their product. This is the first recipe I created with their artisanal freekeh. Smoky roasted peppers, tangy lemon and crunchy, toasted almonds are a good match for the nutty taste of the freekeh.

Being half Lebanese, I grew up eating many whole grain dishes like this one. My grandmother would lovingly prepare vibrant, healthy meals in her tiny, yellow Brooklyn apartment kitchen. Delectable mezze was served before all our holiday meals. Cracked wheat salads, creamy hummus, lemon-laced spinach pies, briny olives and freshly baked pita graced her table at Easter and Christmastime. I wondered how she prepared all that fresh food in such a small space. Now, I find myself cooking in small kitchen and enjoying happy memories too.

So just what is freekeh, you may be wondering? It's a roasted whole grain. Specifically, it's roasted cracked green wheat. Similar to bulgar wheat in taste, except it's smokier and pleasantly chewy. If you've had tabbouleh, then you've had bulgar wheat. Comparable to quinoa in protein and fiber, it has three times the fiber and protein found in brown rice. It also has fewer calories than quinoa. It's very easy to cook on the stove.

Think of it as an alternative to brown rice or quinoa and toss it into soups and salads. It's a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index. According to the company's website,, Dr. Oz recommends freekeh as one of his “7 Essentials for women over 40.”

Spanish Style Freekeh Salad

Makes 4-6 servings

Some Notes:

You can find freekeh online at: or at select natural food stores and supermarkets like Wegmans and Whole Foods. Freekeh Foods Company makes different flavored freekeh such as tamari and rosemary-sage too.

Looking for an alternative to quinoa? Give freekeh a try. It's comparable to quinoa in ease of preparation, protein and fiber content.

Creamy white beans bump up the protein in this recipe, as well as adding another layer of flavor and texture. Cannellini beans are what I selected, but any white bean will do. Roasted red peppers and smoked paprika enhance the flavor of the freekeh. Good for workweek lunches or dinners, this salad keeps well for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge.  It's very filling, but not heavy, providing slow-burning energy.

Serve this salad with lemon, a good drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil and maybe a sprinkling of flaky sea salt if you happen to have some hanging around your kitchen.

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 1 8 ounce package of Original Organic Freekeh, cooked according to the package directions.
  • 3 red bell peppers, split down the middle, seeds removed
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 1 15-16 ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 scallions, chopped very finely
  • A pinch of dried oregano
  • A pinch of smoked paprika (optional, but delicious)
  • Quality extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For Serving: toasted slivered almonds, lemon wedges, a drizzle of best quality olive oil, flaky sea salt


Place the sliced peppers, cut side down, on an oven safe baking sheet lined with tinfoil and broil them on high until their skins are charred and blackened. Remove from the oven, place peppers in a covered bowl or wrap in tin foil to steam. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove their skins and chop into small pieces.

Meanwhile, cook the freekeh according to the package directions, set aside.

In a large bowl, add the diced scallions, rinsed and drained beans, oregano, smoked paprika, chopped roasted red peppers and the cooked freekeh. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Squeeze the juice of one lemon, add some sea salt and good amount of fresh cracked pepper. Toss everything together. Serve with flaky sea salt, lemon wedges and toasted slivered almonds. Enjoy!

***Toast the slivered almonds by putting them in a dry skillet and cooking them on medium heat until they turn golden brown. Be careful not to burn them.***


More Recipes from Jilly:

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower

My Father's Favorite Tomato & Mint Salad