Today’s lunch was delicious. I wanted to prepare a filling salad, so I decided to go for freekeh. For those of you who are not familiar with freekeh, it is young green wheat, toasted and cracked.
After being prepared for a long time in the Levant countries (like rice, with meat and chicken, in soups or as a stuffing to whole chicken and turkey), it’s only a few years back that the whole globe went crazy about these little green grains, calling freekeh the new “supergrain” that was meant to replace quinoa back then, especially because of its nutritional benefits, since freekeh is loaded with fibers, in addition to proteins, selenium, potassium and magnesium.
This is how we witnessed some renowned international chefs incorporate these grains into their menus: as a side dish with fish, chicken or meat, in salads, soups… you can even see freekeh breakfasts if you search online!
Now, back to our salad, the 26th of this #30Days30Salads challenge, it’s a delicious combination of sweet and sour flavors: pomegranate, eggplants, bell peppers and the best of all, Nabulsi cheese.
Nabusli is cheese another ingredient that you might not be familiar with. As its name suggests, it originates from Nablus in Palestine. It is my favorite among Arabic cheeses, and it is flavored with black sesame seeds. It is delicious to be eaten as it is, or even fried or grilled. In addition, it is used to prepare the famous Nabulsi Knefe. I got it from Jaber & Jaber in Chtaura, but I think it should be available in supermarkets. I grilled the cheese and got an amazing chewy texture. It’s excellent for all those of you who aren’t big fans of meat, for your next barbecue!
Let’s check the recipe together now!
Grilled Nabulsi Cheese, Eggplant and Freekeh Salad Recipe
- 1 cup freekeh
- 5 small eggplants
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 20 basil leaves
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
- 6 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup oven roasted bell peppers in oil
- Salt, white pepper and black pepper to taste
- 150 g Nabulsi cheese cut into medium cubes
- Combine the freekeh with 2.5 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt in a saucepan on medium fire. When water boils, lower the heat, cover and leave to cook for 25-40 minutes depending on the size of your grains until water is absorbed completely (check the package instructions for timing). Leave aside to cool.
- Peel eggplants completely or leave few strips of skin according to your taste. Cut the eggplants into small cubes and put in an oven dish. Chop 4 basil leaves and add them to the eggplants. Season to taste. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil over the eggplants, mix well and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C.
- Chop the thyme leaves and remaining basil leaves. Cut the bell peppers into small cubes.
- Prepare the dressing: mix the pomegranate molasses with lemon juice. Add the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper, according to your taste.
- In a bowl, combine the freekeh, eggplants, bell peppers, pomegranate seeds, thyme and basil. Add the dressing and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.
- Thread 2 cheese cubes onto small wooden skewers. Cook on a preheated grill until golden from all sides. Top the salad with the skewers and serve immediately.