Vibrant freekeh salad with chickpeas, dates, fresh herbs, fennel and lemon vinaigrette that’s easy to make and packed with flavour and nutrition.
With its combination of hearty freekeh, fresh herbs, crunchy nuts, and sweet dates, this freekeh salad is packed with delicious flavours and textures.
The recipe is easy to prepare, can be customized adding or substituting your favorite ingredients, and is perfect for a light lunch, side dish, or a potluck contribution.
Packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, freekeh salad is a wholesome choice that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. Its perfect balance of health and flavour!
What is Freekeh?
Freekeh, also spelled as “farik” or “freek,” is an ancient grain made from green durum wheat and has been a staple food in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine for centuries.
The process of making freekeh involves harvesting young wheat, roasting, and then threshing the grains. The roasting step gives freekeh a slightly smoky, nutty taste and a chewy texture.
Freekeh can be used in a variety of dishes like soups, stews and salads, or served as a side dish, added to soups and stews, used in salads, or even as a base for main courses.
Please see the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients with measurements.
- Freekeh: If you can’t find freekeh, farro, barley, wheat berries or a wild rice blend works well. For gluten-free, be sure to use quinoa, wild rice or brown rice.
- Red Onion: You can substitute shallot if needed. You could also do these pickled shallots or quick pickled red onions.
- Chickpeas: White beans make a suitable substitute.
- Dates: Any variety of dates work. You could substitute raisins, dried apricots or dried cranberries.
- Pistachios: Substitute walnuts or chopped almonds.
- White Wine Vinegar: You can substitute apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar.
- Maple Syrup: Agave syrup can be substituted.
- Garlic: If you don’t have garlic available, 1 tbsp garlic powder can be used.
- Olive Oil: A good extra-virgin olive oil works best.
Variations & Additions
- Mediterranean: Add crumbled feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes for Mediterranean-inspired flavor.
- Protein Boost: Serve with tofu or tempeh to amp up the protein content and make it a hearty main course.
- Creamy Avocado: Incorporate creamy avocado slices for a creamy texture that complements the nuttiness of freekeh.
- Nuts: Experiment with various nuts like toasted almonds, cashews, or pine nuts for more crunch factor and different flavors. You can also use seeds like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for a nut-free option.
- Roasted Veggies: Roast vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or carrots can added for more nutrition, flavour and texture.
- Herbs: Play with a variety of fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, or dill to suit to your preference.
- Greens: Mix in baby spinach, arugula, or kale to enhance the salad’s nutritional value.
- Dressing Variations: Greek vinaigrette or basil vinaigrette.
Step 1: Cook the freekeh.
Rinse the freekeh and then add to a medium pot with 2 ½ cups water and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. It should be tender with a slight chewiness
Once the freekeh is cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Place a clean dish towel over the pot, and then put the lid back on. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. This step helps the freekeh to steam and become fluffier.
After the resting time, use a fork to fluff the freekeh. Gently run the fork through the grains, separating them and allowing any excess moisture to escape. Let it cool for another 10 minutes before adding to the salad.
Step 2: Make the Dressing.
To a large bowl, add lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup, cumin, oil and garlic, then whisk well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Chop herbs, veggies and dates.
While you’re waiting for the freekeh, chop the herbs, fennel, red onion and dates.
See the section below for how to slice fennel for salads. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
Step 4: Assemble the Salad.
To the bowl with dressing, add the cooked and cooled freekeh, parsley, mint, fennel, onion, chickpeas, dates and pistachios. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine.
Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Serve right away or let sit for up to 1 hour before serving to allow for the flavours to meld.
How to Slice Fennel
- Trim the Fennel: Start by cutting off the fennel stalks and the base of the bulb. If there are any fronds (feathery leaves), you can save them for garnish.
- Remove Outer Layer: Peel off the outer layer to reveal the more tender layers beneath.
- Cut in Half: Place the fennel bulb on your cutting board and cut it in half from top to bottom (through the root end).
- Remove the Core: In each fennel half, you’ll see a triangular core. It’s quite tough, so use a V-shaped cut to remove it.
- Thinly Slice: Lay the fennel half flat on the cutting board, with the cut side facing down. Using a sharp chef’s knife or a mandolin, slice the fennel crosswise into thin, even slices. Aim for slices about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.
- Separate the Slices: Once you’ve sliced both fennel halves, gently separate the individual slices with your fingers to ensure they don’t clump together in the salad.
- Optional: If you saved the feathery fennel fronds, you can finely chop them and use them as a garnish for the salad.
No, freekeh is wheat so it is not gluten-free. To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute brown rice or quinoa for the freekeh.
- Perfectly Cooked Freekeh: Achieve optimal texture by simmering freekeh until tender, then letting it rest with a dish towel and lid to ensure fluffiness.
- Measuring: Measure the dressing ingredients accurately to find the right balance of sweet, tangy, salty, and savory flavors. The salad ingredients do not need to be measured accurately.
- Fennel: Slice it thinly using a sharp knife or mandolin.
- Toasted Nuts: Enhance the flavour of the nuts by toasting in a dry skillet over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden before adding to the salad.
- Resting the Salad: Allow the salad to rest for about an hour before serving to allow flavors to meld.
- Keep It Crisp: If you’re making the salad ahead, add delicate ingredients like herbs, nuts, and dressing just before serving to preserve crunch and vibrancy.
- Serving: A last-minute squeeze of fresh lemon or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil just before serving can freshen the salad if it was stored overnight.
- Garnish: A final sprinkle of more fresh herbs, lemon zest, or nuts on top adds a nice finishing touch and pretty presentation when serving.
The salad is best served within a few hours of tossing with the dressing, but it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
Save time by cooking the freekeh and chopping vegetables ahead of time, assembling the salad about an hour before serving. Cooked freekeh can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.
More Salads to Try
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Easy vegan freekeh salad with chickpeas, fresh herbs, dates and nuts for a vibrant, wholesome dish that’s packed with flavour and texture.
For the Freekeh Salad
- 1 cup freekeh, rinsed
- ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- 1 small fennel, cored and thinly sliced (about 2 cups/158 g)
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced (¾ cup/55 g)
- 1 540 ml can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup dates, thinly sliced (about 8 medjool dates/87 g)
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios or walnuts (40 g)
For the Dressing
- Cook Freekeh: Rinse freekeh well under cold water. To a medium pot, add freekeh, 2 ½ cups water and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 20-25 min. Remove the pot from heat. Lift lift and place a clean dish towel over the pot. Return lid. Let sit for 10 min. Uncover and allow freekeh to cool another 10 minutes.
- Make Dressing: To a large bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper then whisk well to combine.
- Prepare Salad Ingredients: While you wait for freekeh, chop the fennel, dates, herbs and red onion. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Assemble Salad: To the bowl with dressing, add cooked freekeh, parsley, mint, fennel, onion, chickpeas, dates and pistachios (or walnuts). Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Serve right away or let sit for up to 1 hour before serving to allow flavours to mix.
To slice fennel, cut off long stalks and the base of the bulb. Cut in half from top to the base, then cut out the tough stem with a triangular cut. Peel off the outer layer, then thinly slice remaining bulb.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 337
- Sugar: 6 g
- Sodium: 462 mg
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 50 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 12 g
Keywords: freekeh salad