Seasons by the Sea:Recipes 07:12:12

Salad Days

Freekeh Salad with Apricots, Grilled ­Halloumi, and Zucchini
    This salad is from my new favorite cookbook, “Salad for Dinner” by Jeanne Kelley. She suggests substituting dried apricots when fresh are not available, and feta cheese for halloumi.
    Serves six.
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
2 cups freekeh
1/2 tsp. salt
11/4 lbs. zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters
1/2 tsp. cumin seed
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 package (8.8 oz.) halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
4 firm-ripe apricots, pitted and sliced
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios or almonds
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

    Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the freekeh and stir until grains are coated with oil and slightly toasted. Add three and a half cups water and one-half teaspoon salt, and reduce heat to medium.
    Simmer until water is level with freekeh and holes appear in the center of the cooking grain, about 10 minutes. Cover and simmer over low heat until all water is absorbed and the freekeh is tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and fluff with fork.
    Prepare grill to medium high heat or heat stovetop grill. Brush all sides of zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin seed, cinnamon, and some salt. Brush halloumi cheese with olive oil. Grill both until zucchini is well browned on all sides and tender. Halloumi should be browned on both sides, cook for about eight minutes, turning once. Transfer to plate to cool slightly.
    In small bowl whisk the remaining two tablespoons olive oil with vinegar and garlic to blend. Add dressing to the freekeh along with apricots, green onions, almonds, and parsley. Cut the zucchini and halloumi into half-inch pieces and add to salad. Mix briefly to combine. Can be prepared one day ahead of serving.

Thai Larb
    This recipe is a combination of several I have found in Thai cookbooks. You can substitute lime zest for kaffir lime leaves and ground white meat chicken for thigh meat.
    Serves four.

11/2 lbs boned and skinned chicken breast or thigh meat
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup cucumber slices
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup basil, preferably Thai, torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Lettuce leaves for lining plate, such as Bibb or Boston
    Thai dressing (recipe follows)

    Combine chicken, shallots, lemongrass, lime leaves, jalapeno, and fish sauce in bowl of food processor. Pulse mixture until quarter-inch pieces form.
    In medium bowl, combine red pepper, cucumber, mint, green onions, and basil.
    Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken mixture and fry, breaking up into small pieces with a spatula, until cooked through and golden brown.
    Line four plates with lettuce leaves, top with red pepper mixture, dividing evenly. Spoon hot chicken mixture over each, serve with dressing on the side.

Thai dressing
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. fish sauce, or more or less to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
A few hot pepper flakes or a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce

    Combine all ingredients. Stir to blend. Will keep one week in refrigerator.

    Here is my favorite nut mixture to keep on hand for salads . . . or as hostess gifts. It is based on the bar nuts from Union Square Cafe.
    Makes four cups.
11/4 lbs. assorted nuts such as pistachios, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, whatever
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries
    Preheat oven to 350. Spread nuts on baking sheet and bake in oven about 10 minutes, until golden. While nuts are roasting, toss remaining ingredients together. Toss nuts with rosemary mixture. When cool, add one cup dried cranberries. Store airtight in refrigerator.