Friends, can I let you in on a little secret? It’s late Wednesday night and I might be an eensy bit tipsy. The best explanation I can give is that we hosted a barbecue at our home tonight with my coworkers and I spent the better part of the evening soaking in the sun while grilling up brats, sipping on cold brews, and eating bite after bite of pasta salad and jalapeno kettle chips.
If I could enjoy every night like this during the summer months, I would. Sharing meals while spending time with friends and loved ones makes for some of my favorite evenings. When they’re enjoyed al fresco in the sunlight, all the better.
Last week I again found myself gathered around the table with some of my favorite people sharing a delicious meal while sipping champagne. It was was my turn to host our monthly cooking club and I made this Mediterranean inspired grain salad featuring zucchini and red pepper slices marinaded in an incredible dressing.
The salad was delicious, but what I remember most was enjoying it with dear friends. We celebrated a birthday, a move to a new city, and a new job while sharing big platters of food. In settings like this, I know it would have been just as fun splitting a frozen pizza and a salad from a bag, but knowing that we put a little bit of who we are into each dish we prepared made it just a little better.
I mean it when I say this salad was delicious. The zucchini and bell peppers get marinaded in a bright, lemony dressing which doubles as the dressing for the salad. After the vegetables are grilled, they get chopped and mixed with cooked freekeh, chickpeas, and a big handful of basil. Now that it’s summer, I’ve got a couple basil plants going strong on my back deck and I’ll add their bright, licorice-y leaves to just about anything.
This salad is perfect to make a day in advanced since it can be served cold or at room temperature. And without mayonnaise or dairy, it can be left out for awhile without spoiling making it an excellent potluck bring-along.
If you can’t find freekeh, you can certainly sub any of your favorite grains like quinoa, farro, or couscous. I like freekeh because it’s high in protein and when paired with vegetables and chickpeas it makes for a satisfying vegan meal. Try out this salad and tell me about it in the comments below!
Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Cracked Freekeh Salad
For the Marinade
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
- Zest from 1 Lemon
- Juice from 1 Lemon
- 1 Tbsp Oregano
- 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Sumac (Can sub with more lemon zest)
For the Salad
- 2 Zucchini, sliced
- 1 Bell Pepper, sliced
- 1 Cup Dry Cracked Freekeh, cooked according to the package directions (You can sub with couscous, quinoa, or another favorite grain)
- 1 Can Chickpeas (1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
- Handful of fresh basil
Add the ingredients for the marinade in a mason jar and shake to combine or alternatively whisk the ingredients together in a bowl. Place the sliced vegetables in a plastic bag or container with a lid and pour the marinade on top. Allow the vegetables to marinade anywhere from 2 to 24 hours.
Set your grill burners to medium (you can also use a large pan or grill plate on your stove top over medium heat). Remove the vegetables from the marinade (be sure to save the marinade) and place on the grill for 6-8 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before chopping into bite-sized pieces. Combine with the cooked freekeh (or grain of your choosing), chickpeas, basil, and reserved marinade. Serve warm or cold and enjoy!