It’s time to shake up your kale salad game! Kale quinoa salads are great, but you should give kale freekeh salad a try. Freekeh is the ancient grain you probably haven’t heard of with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. Perfect as a base for a Buddha bowl!
It’s time for another healthy and tasty Mediterranean diet recipe. This one is great for both eating in a more Mediterranean way and for meatless nights at dinner.
I love meals in a bowl. From the usual casseroles, pot pies, and stews to the more newly popular Buddha bowls for lunch and dinner. Having all sorts of great flavors and textures in one complete bowl is such a great idea!
Actually I don’t know if grain bowls are newly popular. I just know they are newly popular with me and I’ve been having fun combining different grains with greens, veggies, and fruits (and sometimes meat) to make an interesting, not at all boring, salad for dinner. A simple, basic salad for lunch maybe along with some leftovers or a sandwich or as a side with my dinner will always have a place in my life, but if a salad is going to be dinner? It has to step up and this freekeh salad has totally stepped up.
In fact you may just get people who do not like kale to enjoy this salad! I say this because the husband who…shall we say is not a fan of kale (putting it mildly!), happily ate this salad more than once as I was developing it. Not even a nose wrinkle. Or an eye roll. The secret here is baby kale. Tiny, baby kale is more tender and more mild than full sized kale and can be a great way to introduce a little kale to your life. 😉
How do you make Kale Freekeh Salad?
The basis of this salad is the freekeh, but if you’ve ever cooked rice or bulgur or quinoa, you’ve got this. (And the instructions will be on your package of freekeh.) Basically, you will heat up some water to a boil, add the freekeh and salt, cover the pot, and cook the freekeh until it’s tender, which is about 20-25 minutes, and then let it sit off heat for a few minutes to finish.
While the freekeh is cooking, slice and dice all the salad ingredients and toast the walnuts. Then mix together the dressing.
Transfer the freekeh to a bowl and mix it with about half of the dressing. Then toss the radicchio and kale with the other half.
Now’s the fun part! Beginning with the freekeh, layer all the ingredients you want into a bowl. And then eat.
See how tiny the kale is? That’s what you’re looking for. It’s about the size of baby spinach and is lovely and tender.
What is Freekeh?
To put in simply, freekeh is a type of durum wheat which is harvested green and then roasted and rubbed. This gives it a nutty and complex flavor with a certain smokiness.
While you can find whole freekeh (which looks a lot like rice or farro), you will usually see cracked freekeh. Cracked freekeh cooks faster and I love the fluffy texture of it. And, like bulgur, cracked freekeh can come in various sizes. I’ve given cooking instructions here for a medium grind. Check your own package for the specific information on how to cook the grain.
Either cracked or whole, freekeh is a whole grain full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can use it in salads (obviously 🙂 ), pilafs, in stews, make tabbouleh, and in all sorts of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes. Just don’t feed it to your gluten-free friends since it is still wheat!
Keep your freekeh in a sealed container in a dark pantry and it will keep for up to one year. Freekeh has earned a place in my grain pantry and I hope it does in yours as well.
Want to try some other dinner bowls? I have a few!
Some more grain bowl/Buddha bowl recipes:
- Grilled Chicken and Farro Caesar Salad Bowl
- Greek Buddha Bowl with Chickpeas and Squash
- Delicata Squash and Shrimp Rice Bowl
I hope you give this powerhouse, nutrient and flavor filled, vegan Buddha bowl a chance! There are so many flavor and textures and we really fell in love with it. Also, it is super filling!
If you try my recipe for this kale and freekeh salad bowl vinaigrette, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! You can connect with me by subscribing to my emails (see the form in the sidebar or below the recipe card), liking my FACEBOOK page, or by following me on PINTEREST.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Freekeh is an earthy grain with a complex flavor which you should try! And this vegan freekeh salad buddha bowl with baby kale, radicchio, avocado, and mint is great way to add some freekeh to your diet.
- 1 cup cracked freekeh
- 2 1/2 cups water or stock
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, if needed
- 4 cups baby kale
- 1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh mint
- 12 dried apricots, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
In a medium pot mix together the freekeh and water or stock. Add the salt if you used water or unsalted stock. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the freekeh is tender and the water is absorbed, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Once the freekeh is cooked, transfer the freekeh to a bowl and let cool a few minutes until it's just warm. If the freekeh is a little wet and there is some water which wasn't absorbed, you can either let the freekeh drain in a fine mesh strainer or line the bowl with a couple of paper towels before you put the freekeh in the bowl.
Mix together the kale and radicchio in a bowl.
Prepare and set out the parsley, mint, apricots, walnuts, avocados, and red onion.
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
Pour half the dressing into the still warm freekeh and toss to combine. Then pour the other half onto the kale and radicchio and toss.
For each bowl add a portion of freekeh to the bottom. Then add some of the kale and radicchio. And then top with some of each of the other ingredients - parsley, mint, apricots, walnuts, avocados, and red onion.
- Buying sumac: You can find sumac at some supermarkets (I find it in about half the markets around here), specialty markets focusing on Middle Eastern foods, and from Amazon.
- Sumac substitutes: Sumac is a main ingredient in za'atar along with thyme and sesame seeds - if you have some of that you can use za'atar in the dressing. Sumac has a citrus-y flavor so, alternatively, add 1 tsp lemon zest to the dressing.
- Buying freekeh/substitutes: Freekeh is also becoming more available. Many markets around here have specialty grain sections or of course you can find it on Amazon as well. If you can't find it and don't want to order it, bulgur makes a good substitute.
- Cooking freekeh: Consult your package for the exact amounts of water and time you will need to cook the freekeh. Also, you may need to adjust the temperature of the burner to keep it from boiling over during the covered cooking.
- Halloumi: The salad as written is vegan. For a non-vegan (but still vegetarian) option, add some fried halloumi to the top of the salad. To make fried halloumi heat a nonstick skillet, add sliced halloumi, and fry until crisp and browned. 1-2 ounces per serving works nicely.
- Toasting the nuts: Preheat oven to 350F. Spread out the nuts on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes.