Freekeh, quinoa and chia, the three wonder grains, are combined with broccoli and chickpeas to make a powerhouse of a salad And, what’s more, it tastes delicious too! To reduce nutrient loss, don’t steam the broccoli and sugar snaps for too long, and cook the freekeh and quinoa in the vegetable cooking water rather than stock or plain water. Add the dressing to the grains while still hot, so that they absorb all the lovely flavours.
Serves 3–4 Ingredients: 75g bulgar wheat, cracked wheat or freekah 350ml chicken or vegetable stock, or water 50g quinoa 200g broccoli 100g sugar snap peas 1⁄2 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds 1–2 tablespoons chia seeds, preferably ground in a mill or blender 100g feta, crumbled A handful of alfalfa sprouts A couple of good handfuls of mixed leaves For the dressing: 2–3 tablespoons lemon juice 11⁄2 tablespoons Greek yogurt 11⁄2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon honey, preferably manuka 2 tablespoons chopped mint
Directions: 1. Wash grains separately in two to three changes of water or until the water runs clear. 2. If you are using freekeh, put it into a pan and cover with the boiling hot stock or water. Bring to the boil and simmer, lid on, for 25 minutes, adding the quinoa for the final 10–12 minutes. 3. If you are using cracked or bulgur wheat, place it in a pan with the quinoa, cover with the boiling hot stock or water, and gently boil for 12–15 minutes. 4. When the grains are tender, drain thoroughly in a sieve to remove as much moisture as possible. 5. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli for about 3 minutes and the sugar snaps for 1 minute or until they are tender but still have a crunch. 6. In a bowl, combine the dressing ingredients with plenty of salt and pepper, taste and add extra lemon juice if needed. 7. Mix with the still-warm grains and chickpeas. 8. Then add the vegetables, seeds, feta, alfalfa sprouts and mixed leaves. 9. Toss and serve straight away.
Alternative grains: cooked bulgar wheat instead of the cooked freekeh or cracked wheat; cooked couscous or amaranth instead of the cooked quinoa.
Variations: – Omit the feta and add some shredded chicken. – Add some sliced cooked beetroot or cherry tomatoes for colour. – Roast some butternut squash or pumpkin, then add to the salad. – Use lentils or cannellini beans instead of chickpeas. – Add sunflower, linseed or sesame seeds, too.
Combining rice with pulses is a great way to not only add extra nutritional value to a dish but also to layer textures and flavours together. Al dente green lentils with soft and chewy brown rice is a fabulous base for any number of combinations, but this herby salad with roasted peppers looks stunning on a plate and is delicious served with grilled or barbecued chicken or, for a vegetarian option, with some rocket leaves and crumbled feta thrown in.
Serves 4 Ingredients: 800ml vegetable stock 150g green lentils 150g wholegrain Basmati rice 2 red peppers, cut into wedges 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 180g cherry tomatoes, halved 200g tenderstem broccoli, trimmed 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds 2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds juice Zest of 1 lemon 2 spring onions, finely chopped 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves 2 tablespoons chopped basil freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. 2. Bring the stock to the boil and add the lentils and rice. 3. Cook over a medium heat for 30–35 minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender (add more boiling water if the lentils begin to dry out). 4. Toss the red peppers and 11⁄2 tablespoonfuls of the oil in a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes. 5. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss, then bake for a further 5 minutes. 6. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in salted water until just tender but retaining a little crunch. 7. Drain and cut into 5cm pieces. 8. Toast the pumpkin seeds and almonds in a dry pan until the almonds are lightly browned. 9. Drain the lentils and rice and put into a bowl. 10. Add the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and almonds, along with the lemon juice and zest and remaining olive oil. 11. Season with black pepper and toss. 12. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the spring onions and herbs. 13. Serve at room temperature.
Alternative to the cooked rice: cooked bulgar or cracked wheat
You can use quinoa only for this salad (replacing 50g amaranth with extra quinoa) or, as I have done, a mix of quinoa and amaranth. I find using a potato peeler makes hard work of skinning the pumpkin – a sharp knife is easier.
Serves 3-4 Ingredients: 750g pumpkin (approximately 600g peeled and deseeded), cut into 2cm-wide wedges 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon olive oil 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar 75g macadamia nuts or pecans 50g amaranth 100g quinoa, thoroughly washed 75g bunch of coriander, stems and leaves 1 small sweet red onion, thinly sliced 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the dressing: 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce 11⁄2 teaspoons honey 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 1⁄2–1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. 2. Put the pumpkin into a bowl with the sesame oil, olive oil, sugar and some salt and pepper and toss together. 3. Scatter over a roasting tin, lined with greaseproof paper, in a single layer. 4. Bake for 30–35 minutes, adding the macadamia nuts or pecans for the final 5 minutes. 5. Leave to cool, then roughly chop the nuts. 6. Meanwhile, simmer the amaranth for 8 minutes in 500ml boiling water. 7. Add the drained quinoa and boil for a further 10–12 minutes before draining and transferring to a bowl to cool slightly. 8. Mix all the dressing ingredients together with the finely chopped stems from the coriander. 9. Stir into the quinoa and then add the pumpkin, nuts, onion, coriander leaves and spinach leaves. 10. Toss lightly and serve.
Alternative to cooked quinoa: cooked freekeh or couscous or a mixture of cooked wild and basmati rice
This recipe is an adaptation of the classic Persian jewelled rice, traditionally served at weddings and other celebrations, and usually containing pomegranates, herbs and nuts for colour and texture. This couscous recipe follows the same lines. In this salad, the jewels are the nuts, carrots, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Don’t worry if one element is missing – for example, you can swap the pomegranate for dried apricot, the cucumber for blanched chopped green beans or the pine nuts for flaked almonds or pistachios. Just make it colourful!
Serves 4 as a side dish Ingredients: 200g couscous* 300ml chicken or vegetable stock 2 heaped tablespoons pine nuts 1 tablespoon sunflower or pumpkin seeds 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Juice of 1 lemon A pinch or 2 of sumac (optional) 1⁄2 large cucumber Diced 1 carrot Grated seeds from 1 pomegranate A handful of mint leaves A handful of flat-leaf parsley 200g feta, crumbled, (optional)
*Alternative to couscous: cooked quinoa or cracked or bulgar or cracked wheat (all thoroughly washed)
Directions: 1.Put the couscous in a bowl, then pour over the boiling hot stock, cover with clingfilm and leave to fluff up for 5 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and sunflower or pumpkin seeds in a dry pan and leave to cool for 10 minutes. 3. When it’s ready, add the oil and lemon juice and some seasoning to the couscous and use a fork to stir and separate. 4. When cool, add all the remaining ingredients, stir together and serve.
Variation: Jewelled couscous and millet salad For this variation on the above recipe, you can use half the quantity of couscous and instead bring 100ml (75g) pearled millet up to a simmer in 300ml boiling stock and cook gently for 12–15 minutes or until just tender (it should have absorbed very nearly all of the liquid at the end of cooking, so watch it carefully). Mix with the other ingredients.