Recently I interviewed Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol: two Dutch professional foodies that share their love for Arabic food with the rest of the world. I find it very inspiring how sincerely and careful these two women do research for their cookbooks, which reminds me a bit of well-known authors like Claudia Roden. As Merijn puts it: “Food is a language that people can here. These days authenticity in food is often sadly overlooked. Food is no fashion item. It needs attention and care.” I really couldn’t agree more.
The two women created a wonderful product line with very high-quality Arabic products, in corporation with the small entrepreneurs they met on their travels. I was intrigued and inspired by all the great products and immediately started experimenting when I got home. This delicious freekeh salad was my first creation.
The nutty and almost smokey freekeh is great in combination with the juicy tomatoes, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. A drizzle of rich pomegrante melasse adds a sweet and sour accent and some za’atar adds extra crunch and spice.
I served the freekeh with some thick yogurt, through which I stirred some olive oil and a pinch of sumac. This was a fast and amazingly delicious salad that I will definitely make more often.
Note: can’t find freekeh? Substitute with spelt, pearl couscous or quinoa. You can also leave out the za’atar or replace it with a bunch of fresh oregano and some sesame seeds.
2 cups (300 g) freekeh
1 + 2/3 cup (250 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, in small cubes
seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 cup (100 g) walnuts, shelled
1 tbsp za’atar
½ cup (120g) thick yogurt
1. Cook the freekeh al dente in salted water, this will take between 15 and 20 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
2. Mix the tomatoes and cucumber with the freekeh. Add a generous amount of olive oil and some pomegranate molasses to taste. Season well.
3. Just before serving, stir in the pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Sprinkle with za’atar.
4. Mix yogurt with some olive oil and a pinch of sumac in a small bowl. Serve with the freekeh salad.