Ever since I started working, I’ve been making a conscious effort to meal prep at the weekend. This usually consists of firstly, having fresh produce in the house, and secondly cooking grains which can easily be transformed into salads or can be used as side dishes for dinner.
Quinoa and wheat berries are two excellent make-ahead ingredients as you can store them in the fridge for a few days and used them as needed. This salad incorporates both of these grains, plus a few seasonal vegetables.
The idea for this recipe comes from Green Kitchen Stories, a blog which boasts the most beautiful photography and has served as a source of inspiration for many years. If you love wholesome good food I highly recommend both their cookbooks (The Green Kitchen and Green Kitchen Travels) as well!
I first made the za’atar salad when it was originally published and have adapted it with whatever vegetables I have on hand. The original recipe calls for roasted aubergine, chickpeas and cherry tomatoes; for this version I roasted butternut squash (first one of the season), added in mushrooms and threw in a few tomatoes which I had sitting in the fridge.
What really distinguishes this salad from any other is the combination of parsley, ground cumin, za’atar and lemon in the dressing and the lighting dusting of feta which is crumbled on top. It works amazingly well with the original version of the salad, but is so easily adaptable with any other vegetables you might have on hand at the moment. Personally, I enjoy the zest of lemons in salad dressings, but would have probably never combined it with cumin and za’atar. But give it a go, and see for yourself how amazing this tastes, either the original or the adapted version below.
- 1.5 cups wheat berries
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/2 butternut squash, chopped into bite size chunks
- 1 tsp. herbes de provence
- 4-5 button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3-4 tomatoes, cubed
- 1 bunch flat parsley, finely chopped
- 1 lemon
- 60g crumbly feta cheese
- olive oil (approx. 4 tbsp. for roasting and 2-3 tbsp. for the dressing)
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tbsp. za’atar (see notes)
- salt + pepper
Cook the quinoa and wheat berries according to instructions on pack, then transfer both to the same large bowl and leave to cool. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with foil. Transfer the chopped butternut squash to the baking sheet, drizzle with approx. 4 tbsp. olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the herbes de provence. Roast the vegetables for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until softened.
When the butternut squash is done, add to the bowl with the wheat berries and quinoa. Chop in the tomatoes and mushroom. Add the finely chopped parsley, the juice from the lemon and season with ground cumin, za’atar and season with salt and pepper. Crumble in the feta cheese, give everything a good stir and drizzle with some olive oil. At this point you may need to season to taste. Serve cold as a salad for lunch, or a delicious side for dinner.
Notes: Za’atar is a mix of Middle Easter herbs, mixed with sesame seeds and other spices. I know it is quite hard to find it in some places. I picked mine up from Waitrose, but it’s generally also available here .