Roast Asparagus, Freekah & Tomato Salad with Lemon & Herb Drssing

Serves 6-8

A Spring salad using asparagus, lots of fresh herbs and juicy freekeh. The salad is perfect as a vegetarian dish but it also goes so well as part of a salumi plate. You could halve the recipe and serve it in a small bowl, surrounded by a selection of salami, sopressa and cacciatore and some simple bruschetta, toasted ciabatta drenched in EVOO.

Freekah is supposed to be very good for you, being a whole grain, picked at optimum nutrition. That aside, it is intensely delicious and satisfying to eat. A little nutty, a tiny bit smokey and with a big chew factor. YUM!

TIPS -Buy Freekah from health food stores or online. Freekah is simply wheat grains that have been harvested green and then fire roasted and dried. This process is an ancient one, originating in North Africa. It is said that the first Freekah was an accident, created when wheat grains were unintentionally burnt by fire. Not wanting to waste the food, they were cooked and eaten and the deliciousness of Freekah was first discovered. Countries around the Mediterranean basin, from North Africa around to Italy have been enjoying Freekah for centuries.

WINE MATCH – Serve the salad with red or white. I’d go for a lemony Riesling from Denmark, or even a fruity Sangiovese from the Swan Valley, transporting me to a Spring day in Italy. 😉

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Freekah

3 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed

2 tablespoons EVOO

3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

pinch salt

freshly cracked black pepper

1 1/2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved

Lemon & Herb Dressing

1 clove garlic, finely grated

juice one large lemon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons EVOO

1/4 cup each of fresh mint, basil and Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Pour the freekeh into a large saucepan.
  2. Fill with about 1 1/2 litres water, then bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer the freekeh for about 1.5 hours or until they are plumped up and juicy to bite. They should still hold their shape and have a chewy, yet juicy bite to them.
  4. Drain, then tip into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold.
  5. Spread the trimmed asparagus out in a roasting tray. Drizzle with the EVOO, scatter with the parmesan or Romano cheese and crack over some black pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Use your hands to work the cheese in a little so that it coats the asparagus.
  6. Roast at 200 degrees Celsius until it is tender and slightly golden.
  7. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  8. Take the freekeh out of the fridge, stir through the Lemon & Herb Dressing and cherry tomatoes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.
  9. Pour the freekeh salad onto a serving plate and top with the asparagus, making sure you get all the delicious bits of roasted cheese.
  10. Serve immediately

Dressing

  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine well.
  2. Store the dressing in the fridge for up to a day.

NOTE: This salad taste just as good the next day as a leftover. It is therefore also a great salad to make in advance and take to your next barbeque.