I think it’s safe to say that spring has finally arrived. Dinner feels like a much easier affair during the warmer months. It’s light when you’re cooking so everything feels less rushed, the food that you prepare is less laborious and quicker to throw together and for some reason, dining outside makes cleaning up seem less of a chore. If it weren’t for the mosquitos, I don’t think I’d be able to find a negative.
Last night we had the first of many dinners in the garden. Lamb is lovely at this time of year so I made this salad to go with it. It’s my take on the infamous Hellenic Republic Cypriot grain salad that wins hearts whenever it is served up. This version features charred eggplant, feta, pine nuts and mint…
I cooked lamb cutlets but a rack of lamb, backstrap or fillets would work just as well. Or of course… no lamb at all!
Freekeh salad with charred eggplant
1 cup of cracked freekeh
1 large eggplant
4 tbs of pine nuts
3 tbs of pumpkin seeds
1 tbs of sesame seeds
1 tbs of sunflower seeds
4 tbs of currants
90g feta, crumbled
A handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
A handful of mint, roughly chopped
A handful of parsley, roughly chopped
4 tbs of olive oil, and a little extra
2 tbs of red wine vinegar
A squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
For the yoghurt
2 tbs greek yoghurt
1 tsp of harissa
Place the freekeh in a saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer gently for 18 minutes or until cooked. Or follow whatever it says on the packet!
Preheat your BBQ or grill to medium-high heat. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 cm slices. You can do this lengthways or widthways. Coat with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and place on the grill. I cook mine on the weber and leave the heat up high to start with so the eggplant chars nicely, then I turn it down to medium to make sure the eggplant cooks nicely all the way through. Turn the eggplant over and char the other side. When cool, chop to your liking. I cut the rounds into quarters.
Place the pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds in a fry pan over medium – high heat. Toast until nicely browned. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl combine the freekeh, toasted nuts and seeds, currants, feta, eggplant, spinach, mint and parsley. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Mix the yoghurt and harissa together and serve alongside the salad.
Serves 6 – 8