THE FREEKEH AND ROASTED GRAPE SALAD
Freekeh-- a cracked wheat grain with origins in the Palestinian kitchen—is chewy, mild, and pleasingly smoky. It releases a gray film when cooked, but don’t worry; you can skim it off while cooking. I love freekeh cold as the base for a salad with roasted vegetables or, better yet, fruit. Enter grapes! Starting with plump, fresh grapes—just the kind you’d want to eat out of hand—means they shrivel slightly but maintain a concentrated burst of grapey flavor. Swap in any grain you like!
1½ cups freekeh, preferably whole (cracked is also fine!)
2½ cups (1 pound) seedless red grapes*
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more for seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes, such as Aleppo
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup finely minced fresh chives or chopped parsley
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the freekeh in a medium bowl, cover with water, and soak, 15 minutes for cracked and 30 minutes for whole. Drain and rinse. Place grapes on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper, and roast, shaking every 5 minutes, until the grapes shrivel and some are very caramelized and even a little burned on the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
Place drained freekeh in a medium saucepan with 2½ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer, skimming any scum and stirring occasionally once the water is partially absorbed, until cooked, 15 minutes for cracked and 25 to 30 minutes for whole. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and spread out to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk ⅓ cup lemon juice with the remaining ⅓ cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and pepper flakes. Add the cooled freekeh and grapes with the lemon zest and chives; toss and let sit for 5 minutes. Toss in remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice with walnuts. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.