This Moroccan freekeh with harissa aubergine was dee-lish. And as you can tell from the name, I thought I'd use a couple of new-to-me ingredients in this recipe, in the spirit of trying new things: harissa (a spicy chilli paste), and freekeh (a grain).
Don't be afraid of freekeh if you've not heard of it before! FYI, I believe it's actually pronounced 'freak-ah', not 'freak-eh'... though what do I know, I've always pronounced acai like 'ack-eye', and apparently it's actually 'ah-sigh-ee' (what? People need to stop inventing weirdly pronounced foods). Anyway, it will always be 'freak-eh' to me, because then I can prance around the kitchen singing this song while I'm cooking.
Anyway, don't be afraid of freekeh! It's actually really straightforward to cook, despite its odd name - just boil it and drain it like you would with any other grain. I found my freekeh without any trouble in my local supermarket, but if you can't spot it, any similar grains would work just fine in this recipe too (barley, bulgur wheat, spelt, etc). It's got exactly the flavour you would expect, i.e. not a huge amount, but slightly nutty and nicely chewy. Very enjoyable.
As for the harissa, which I used to marinade the aubergine, I was expecting it to be knock-your-socks-off spicy, but it's actually a little sweet! I like quite spicy things, but I do like to be able to taste the other flavours in a dish as well (funny, that), and I really enjoyed the harissa aubergine. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty fiery, but alongside the freekeh, it was more of an 'ooh that's a nice bit of spice' rather than an 'ouch what's happening to my mouth'. I'll definitely be using it again in other ways!
Once you've got all your weird ingredients together, it's pretty straightforward. Smear your aubergine with the harissa, and throw it in a griddle pan. Fry off some veg with some spices, chickpeas, and the cooked freekeh. Assemble.
Bish bash bosh. Moroccan freekeh with harissa aubergine, done!
Moroccan freekeh with harissa aubergine
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- 100 g freekeh (~ ½ cup)
- 2 tablespoon oil, divided
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoon harissa paste
- 8 x 1cm slices of aubergine, cut on a slight diagonal
- 150 g cooked chickpeas (~ ⅔ cup)
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Black pepper
- Small handful walnuts, roughly chopped
- Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
- Add the freekeh to a pan of water, and boil for around 15 minutes, until soft. Drain, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan, and add the sliced onion and grated carrot. Cook over a medium heat for about 7-8 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the paprika, cumin and ground coriander, and cook for 1 minute more.
- In a small bowl, combine the harissa paste with the remaining 1tbsp of oil. Smear the mixture across both sides of each slice of aubergine, and place the slices in a griddle pan over a fairly high heat. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the aubergine is soft and marked with dark char lines.
- When the onion and carrot mixture is ready, add the drained freekeh, cooked chickpeas, honey or agave, lemon juice, and plenty of seasoning. Mix well, and cook for a few more minutes until everything is hot. Stir through the chopped walnuts, and serve topped with the harissa aubergine and fresh coriander.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.
Note: nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.