Freekeh is a slightly chewy, vaguely smokey whole grain that makes a delicious base for a grain salad, and this freekeh salad with winter orange and seasonal ingredients is a very good light meal. It’s inspired by Sicilian orange and onion salads.
Oranges, pepper, and olive oil are a truly perfect combination (it’s a classic for a reason). In this case, I’ve added freekeh to create a filling base, alongside chickpeas, fresh greens, and pumpkin seeds. A simple orange juice and olive oil vinaigrette keeps the original flavour notes of the salad in place and dresses the freekeh nicely.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Oranges: I used blood oranges for this recipe, which are a bit more tart. Navel oranges or another variety like cara cara would be just as good.
- Greens: rucola (rocket/arugula) is fantastic, with its peppery flavour, but baby spinach or baby chard are also good.
- Pumpkin seeds: use raw seeds if possible, and substitute others like sunflower seeds or use nuts instead.
If you’re particularly sensitive to raw onion but don’t want to leave it out, either pickle it or give it a quick ten minute soak in ice water before adding to the salad. Keep it in if at all possible as that added bite is fantastic.
The vinaigrette doesn’t need to be made in a separate container, and everything is mixed in one large bowl instead. There’s nothing in the dressing that needs to be combined beforehand so this works well.
The freekeh needs to be cooked before being mixed into the salad, and it can be combined while still warm. I wouldn’t recommend mixing while it’s still red-hot, but a little heat is okay for these winter greens.
Freekeh is an ancient grain from the eastern Mediterranean (Levant) and North Africa. It’s unripened durum wheat, harvested while still green, and then roasted to remove the chaff and straw. The remaining grain is often cracked to reduce the cooking time but keep the high nutritional value. Freekeh has a particular slightly smokey flavour that’s very pleasant, especially in plant-based cooking.
• Freekeh is not gluten free, as it’s wheat.
• It’s high in protein, zinc, and manganese. 100 grams also contains 20% of your daily iron and magnesium requirements, so that’s nothing to sniff at, either.
• Cracked freekeh only needs about 25 minutes to cook.
• Freekeh is excellent in both savoury and sweet uses (think sweet porridge).
How to Store
Storage: the salad is best right after mixing, but can be refrigerated in a sealed container for a couple of days.
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing the salad, but cooked freekeh freezes very well.
- Cook the freekeh in advance: it’s best to cool the grain before mixing it in with the salad, so if you can cook it ahead of time, that’s ideal.
- Make sure to buy cracked freekeh: whole freekeh takes much longer to cook and will have a different texture.
- Open up your pepper grinder: most pepper grinders can be loosened or tightened at the base (where you open it up to add more peppercorns) and this salad is nicer with some cracked rather than finely ground pepper.
More Orange Recipes
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Freekeh Salad with Orange and Greens
- 625 ml water
- 160 grams cracked freekeh
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 oranges peeled and sliced
- 50 grams rucola
- 150 grams chickpeas cooked or canned, rinsed well
- 1 small red onion very thinly sliced
- 50 grams pepitas
Orange Olive Oil Vinaigrette
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of an orange ~4 tablespoons
- Zest of an orange
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- To cook the freekeh, bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the freekeh and salt, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed. Remove from the burner and let sit, covered, for another 5 minutes.625 ml water, 160 grams cracked freekeh, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- To assemble the salad, let the freekeh cool beforehand. Add to a large bowl with the oranges, rucola, chickpeas, onion, and pepitas.3 oranges, 50 grams rucola, 150 grams chickpeas, 1 small red onion, 50 grams pepitas
- Top the salad with the vinaigrette ingredients and mix until very well combined. Best served immediately, but the salad can be refrigerated for up to two days.60 ml extra virgin olive oil, Juice of an orange, Zest of an orange, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.