Freekeh salad with figs and roasted eggplant

Freekeh is one of the best grains out there. It has a lot of fiber and a nutty but fresh taste. This is probably because it’s wheat that has been harvested when still young. The dried wheat is then carefully burnt, so the seeds remain intact. This is what gives them their special flavor. Freekeh is a typically middle eastern food, but in Germany we have a very similar thing called Gruenkern, which is spelt processed in a similar way. Gruenkern is one of the foods of my childhood, it’s actually delicious! Today I mostly eat it in salads, such as this one, which has a nice mix of flavors and textures with the fresh figs and the roasted aubergine. The tahini dressing is my new favorite, it’s good in everything but goes especially well with this salad.


Freekeh salad with fresh figs and roasted eggplant
Ingredients
  • For two portions:
  • 80 grams (half a cup) of freekeh or Gruenkern
  • One tablespoon of olive oil
  • Half an eggplant
  • A pinch of za’atar (optional)
  • Two carrots (I used purple ones here for the color), trimmed and peeled
  • Four fresh figs
  • Two tablespoons of tahini
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Two generous handfuls of fresh green leaves or lettuce (arugula, romaine, etc), trimmed and washed
  • A few leaves of basil
  • A pinch of chili flakes or a small piece of a fresh chili, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Cook the freekeh in about double the amount of water (I like to use a little more, just in case – and it’s always good to check the package for instructions of course). Cooking time will depend on the variety you’re using, if it’s broken, it should be about 20 minutes, if it’s whole, it will take 35 to 40 minutes. Check for doneness, then drain the freekeh in case there’s water left and set aside to cool off a little.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant into slices (about 1 cm thick), then quarters. Sprinkle them with a little salt and let them sit for a few minutes, then pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
  3. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the eggplant pieces, turning them once or twice until they are nicely browned. You can add a little za’atar here if you want.
  4. Chop the carrots into bite size pieces and quarter the fresh figs.
  5. For the dressing, mix the tahini with the lemon juice. Add a little water if the consistency is too thick, until you have a creamy dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Now assemble the salad by mixing the greens with the still warm freekeh, the roasted eggplant pieces, the carrots, the basil leaves and the chili. Mix in the dressing and stir everything well. Finally, add the fresh figs. Enjoy!

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