Winter doesn’t have to mean soups and stews all the time. Freshen up your repertoire with Contributing Food Editor Emily Jonzen’s recipe for Roasted Grape, Chicory and Goats Cheese Salad with Freekeh
IMAGE: EMILY JONZEN
To me, February offers a little glimmer of hope. As we emerge from what is, arguably, the bleakest month of the year with its dark days, tightened purse strings and chaste resolutions, it seems that in February we can all relax a little. By now, we may be staying true to our January intentions, or reconciling ourselves with the fact that it is perfectly OK to skip that evening Body Pump session in favour of eating a wedge of stilton in front of Netflix.
I never find virtuosity especially cheering at this time of year; I crave comfort in bright, zippy flavours and interesting textures. Something soothing, nourishing and sating. With this in mind, I’ve written a recipe for the sort of thing that I like to eat at this time of year. A quick to prepare, sort-of salad, bolstered by rich and nutty grains and finished with a sharp and creamy goats cheese and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts.
You’ll find everything you need in your local supermarket, but I’ve added in alternatives for ease. Freekeh, if you’ve never come across it before, is a young durum wheat grain which is roasted and polished, giving it a unique, smoky flavour. Use it in the same way you would bulgar wheat, couscous or pearled spelt.
Roasted grape, chicory and goats cheese salad
- 100 g dry weight freekeh. If you can’t find it, pearled spelt or pearled barley are good substitutes. For ease and speed, you can use a 250g ready cooked pouch of Freekeh.
- 175 g red grapes picked from the stalk
- 30 g blanched hazelnuts
- 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 75 g soft goats cheese such as Chevre I used Sainsbury’s Abergavenny Soft
- the juice of half a lemon
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 heads red chicory leaves, separated
- A handful flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200°c/ 180°c Fan/Gas 6.
- Rinse the freekeh well, then tip into a saucepan, along with 300ml of cold water. Cover, bring up to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes for cracked freekeh, 30-35 minutes for wholegrain. Drain if necessary, season with a pinch of salt and set aside to cool slightly – you want it to be just warm, not blisteringly hot.
- Whilst the freekeh s cooking, scatter the grapes into a roasting tray, toss in 1 teaspoon of the oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, until juicy and slightly shrivelled. Add the hazelnuts to the pan (set aside form the grapes so as not to interfere with their juices) for the last four minutes of cooking time. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop.
- Bring the salad together by mixing any pan juices from the grapes with the remaining oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Toss with the freekeh, grapes and chicory and serve with the cheese and hazelnuts crumbled over the top.
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