Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar, Tahini Beetroot

Wheatberry Salad with Chickpeas + Za'atar

I’ve already talked about my love for Middle-Eastern flavours on the blog and I’m featuring them again today in another couple of recipes.

Dried pulses, fresh produce, herbs and spices, olive oil, lemon, garlic and grains are all characteristic ingredients in dishes from that part of the world. You can probably see why I’m drawn to them, given how naturally vegan-friendly they are, not to mention packed with flavour.

Za’atar is a herb and spice blend widely-used in the Middle-East.  Its specifics vary according to region but it usually includes toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. It’s used as a seasoning for grilled vegetables, salads, sprinkled on top of hummus and mixed with olive oil and spread on flatbread, known as manakeesh.

I brought a bag of freshly ground sumac home  from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul last year and am always on the lookout for new ways to use this tangy, lemony spice. So far I’ve especially enjoyed it rubbed onto roasted potatoes, a light sprinkle on fattoush (cucumber, tomato, herb + pita salad), and now in this spice blend.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar

I love all the different textures in this salad, with the chewy wheat berries, tender chickpeas, melt-in-the-mouth roast aubergine and juicy fresh tomatoes. The combination made it satisfying enough for a supper salad, alongside my delicious tahini beetroot.Grain and bean salads hold up well for a while in the fridge too so this salad would be perfect to keep on hand for quick lunches throughout the week.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

1 1/2C Cooked chickpeas/ 1 Can chickpeas
1/2C Wheatberries OR Farro OR Spelt berries
1 Large aubergine, diced into 1” chunks
1 T Olive oil, 1/2 t cumin seeds, 1/2 t sumac
1 C Cherry tomatoes, halved
2T Lemon juice
1T Olive oil
Salt + Pepper
Large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1-2T Za’atar spice blend

Za’atar *

1T Toasted sesame seeds (toast in dry pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally, approx 5 minutes or until fragrant)
1T Sumac
1/2 T Dried thyme
1/4 T Ground cumin

* I just made a small amount, enough for this recipe and to rub on a few flatbreads but I recommend doubling the recipe as it’s nice to have prepared for other dishes.

Cook your wheat berries according to the package instructions. I used semi-pearled so they only took 30 minutes but they can take up to an hour. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Toss the aubergine chunks with 1T oil, sumac and cumin seeds, spread in an even layer on a baking tray and roast at 200C/400F for 20-30 minutes until brown and very soft.

In a bowl combine wheat berries, chickpeas, warm roasted aubergine and halved cherry tomatoes. Mix in remaining olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley and za’atar seasoning to taste. Toss again and serve.

Serves 3-4

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar, Tahini Beetroot

The tahini beetroot I made to go with the salad is a repeat recipe in my kitchen. Everyone who tries it loves the stuff and it’s a great accompaniment to all sorts of dishes, not just those with Middle Eastern flavours.

I cut the beetroot in a different way each time I make it but I think I’ve finally decided that julienned (as in the below picture) is the way to go-  greater surface area allowing for maximum sauce coverage.

I originally found the recipe at The Kitchn but now know it off the top of my head.

Tahini Beetroot:

3-4 Small to medium beetroot, roasted and peeled (Scrub beetroot, slice off greens, wrap loosely in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast at 350C for approx 1 hour, or until the beetroot fall off a knife easily when pierced. Leave to cool and skin should rub off easily)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t Sea salt
2T Tahini
1 1/2T Lemon juice
2-4 T Water

Slice cooled beetroot into thick matchsticks (or your preferred shape)

Use pestle and mortar to grind garlic and salt into a smooth paste. Add tahini and lemon and stir until homogeneous. It will separate initially but keep stirring and it will smooth out. Thin with water to desired thickness.

Combine sauce with beetroot in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It’s best left an hour or 2 to sit so the sauce soaks in.

Serve with the above salad or with a selection of mezze.

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette | coconutandberries.com

I’ve been seeing tropical fruits like avocados and mangoes, as well as an array of exotic vegetables all over the blog world recently.  But, instead of bemoaning their non-existence over here I shall celebrate the beautiful local produce we do have in this part of the world! New potatoes, fresh peas, asparagus and herbs all do particularly well in the UK.

Potato salad is of course a classic summer dish but typically relegated to a side. As this meal was all about showcasing our lovely vegetables I opted to turn it into a main. Along with the vegetables, chickpeas add some protein power and a zippy lemon basil vinaigrette brings it all together.

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

I love it with roasted radishes too!

Pre-Dressed Salad:

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette | coconutandberries

 New potatoes ready to roast- Steamed new potatoes are also delicious and would be a nice alternative to roasted, especially if you’re serving this as a cold salad.

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette


Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 Servings

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette


  • 650g New potatoes, halved
  • 1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Coarse Sea salt (I like Maldon) + Pepper
  • 1-1/2 C Cooked chickpeas/ 1 Can, drained + rinsed
  • 1 Bundle (approx 350g/1lb) asparagus, tough ends snapped off
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 1 C Green peas (frozen are fine)
  • 2 Shallots, chopped finely
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C Fresh Basil, chopped coarsely or chiffonaded
  • salt + pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. On a large baking tray toss new potatoes with olive oil, and a good sprinkle of coarse sea salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Edges should be crispy and golden (Alternatively steam new potatoes approx 15mins).
  3. Meanwhile, prepare dressing. Whisk together mustard and lemon juice and then slowly trickle in olive oil and keep whisking until emulsified. Stir through the basil and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Warm a large pan over medium heat with another drizzle of oil. Toss in asparagus along with 2T water, cover and cook for 4 minutes until bright green. Add peas, cover pan again and cook a further couple of minutes. If your peas are fresh add another couple of tablespoons of water to steam.
  5. When cooked, stir in chickpeas to warm through along with the minced shallots, just to take the sharp edge off them (you can also leave them raw if you like a bit of bite).
  6. Spread roasted new potatoes into a large serving dish in a layer then pour over the asparagus, chickpea & pea sauté.  Finish with black pepper and extra basil leaves.
  7. Either toss salad with dressing or serve on side for individuals to dress their own plates.

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog-hop Healthy Vegan Fridays

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette | coconutandberries.com

What are your favourite local fruits and vegetables at this time of year?

Please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere!  I’m on FacebookPinterestInstagram (@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly.

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

I’ve been to Istanbul for a short visit but would love to see more of that part of the world- beautiful architecture,  fascinating culture…and of course delicious food!

Middle-Eastern cuisine has been a favourite of mine for some time. If you ever find yourself in Oxford I highly recommend a meal at Al Shami. It’s a great Lebanese place, probably my favourite Oxford restaurant, and although not exclusively vegetarian, there’s a huge selection of vegan mezze on offer. Whenever we go we order as many dishes as we can squeeze onto the table and all share, that way we can try lots of different things. (N.b. I’ve now posted a review of the restaurant here)

Here’s my attempt to bring a little of the Middle-East into my own kitchen. My creations are no doubt far from authentic, but still tasty. I stumbled across a recipe for nut kofta kebabs over at Bit of the Good Stuff and they became the starting point for this meal, with just a bit of adaptation.

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

To serve along with the kofte I went for a sweet spiced beetroot carrot salad, lemony courgettes, herbed wholegrain couscous and mint tzatziki- a tasty little feast.

Nut Kofte:

(Adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff)

1-2T Rapeseed oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 t Ground cumin
1t Ground coriander
1T Peanut butter
1-2t Sriracha hot sauce
salt + pepper
425g / 14oz Can Borlotti beans, rinsed + drained
1C Almond meal (whole almonds finely ground in a food processor)
1/2C Finely chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts + walnuts)
1/2-3/4C Wholemeal breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Sauté onion in oil over medium heat for a few minutes until soft and fragrant, add garlic, spices, peanut butter and sriracha and and continue cooking another couple of minutes. Season to taste.

Pulse beans in food processor until mostly smooth, scrape into a bowl and add onion mixture, ground and chopped nuts, breadcrumbs as needed until you get a thick consistency, slightly sticky and not crumbly.

If you’ve got time stick the bowl in the fridge for an hour to firm up and help you shape the kofte. Using damp fingers shape the mixture into approx 14 ping-pong size balls. Lay on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until turning brown and crispy, flip kofte half-way through cooking time.

(Makes 14- Serves 4)

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

This salad is a keeper, one I can see going well with a whole variety of dishes. It’s delicately spiced and a little tangy with tasty bursts of sweetness from the golden raisins in every mouthful.

Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad:

2-3C Grated Carrots
1-2C Grated Beetroot (I used a food processor to save time, although I think done by hand the shreds are a little nicer)
1/2C Golden Raisins or Currants
1/4t Sweet Paprika
1/4t Ground Cumin
1/4t Ground Cinnamon
Dash Cayenne
Salt + Pepper
2 1/2T Lemon Juice
2t Agave syrup
Fresh mint to garnish

Add the grated carrot and beetroot to a large bowl, along with the raisins. In a small bowl combine spices and seasoning and whisk in lemon and agave. Pour dressing over the salad and toss well. Leave to sit, covered, in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving for the best flavour. Garnish with mint.

I thought it would be nice to have something creamy and cooling to go with the slightly spiced dishes and my mint raita went perfectly here. I tried a similar recipe from “Veganomicon” a short while ago, which is a little different, using oregano + dill, but also very tasty. I liked the mint with this meal though.

This Recipe is being shared at Raw Food Thursdays
Cucumber Mint Raita:

1/4C Cashews, soaked for an hour, drained and rinsed
1c Cucumber, peeled + diced
2t Agave nectar
1t Apple cider vinegar
1/2 Clove garlic
1/2t Ground cumin
1/2t Salt
1t Lime juice
Dash of cayenne
1/4C Fresh mint, loosely packed

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender (except fresh mint), until smooth. Pulse in mint, leaving little flecks of green.

What’s your favourite cuisine? Although Middle-Eastern is one of mine I love trying dishes from all over the world- Indian, European, Asian, American…English is in fact one of the few I’m not a huge fan of!

If you try out any of these recipes, I’d love to hear what you think.

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms


Whenever I have portobello or flat mushrooms on hand I always seem to go to my default recipe- marinated in a sweet balsamic dresssing, grilled, and then served any of a number of ways: sliced into chunky strips strewn over a salad,  squished between a bun with lots of toppings… When I’ve found a recipe I love I get it into my head that nothing else I make with that ingredient will be as good and so I stick to the tried and tested.

I was definitely proven wrong today. I pushed myself to try something new and I may just have knocked my old fave off the top-spot!

These beauties really have that “umami” flavour and although rich-tasting they are pretty darn healthy too. I’d very happily eat a couple of them simply accompanied with some crusty bread for a satisfying lunch, light dinner, or even for breakfast.

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

I used coconut milk for the creaminess here and the coconut flavour wasn’t too strong for me when combined with plenty of garlic, earthy leeks and spinach as well as a good dose of nutritional yeast, but if you’re not a fan then you could swap in any other non-dairy cream (soy, coconut etc- there are various available commercially these days). A hint of nutmeg rounds these out nicely, but again you might prefer to go with a dash of cayenne instead for a slightly different background note.

Pictured below I served them with sweet potato chunks, roasted until the edges turn caramel-crisp and some delicately seasoned beluga lentils.

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms

Creamy Spinach + Leek Stuffed Mushrooms:

3-4 Large Flat/Portobello Mushrooms
1 Leek, diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
Few grinds nutmeg and/or cayenne
Several handfuls spinach
1/2C Coconut milk/non-dairy cream
2T Nutritional yeast
salt + pepper, olive oil

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F

Prepare your mushrooms- either wipe with a damp cloth or peel and de-stalk, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and lay them on a baking sheet.

Sauté leeks over medium heat for 5 minutes until softening nicely, add minced garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add your spinach (be generous as it will shrink down a lot) and spices of choice and cook until wilted. Pour over coconut milk, warm through and season.

Spoon creamy filling onto your prepared mushroom caps and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Bake 20-30 minutes until turning golden.


What about you, do you stick to your tried and tested with certain ingredients, or are you open to trying new ideas?

Chickpea Salad with Cucumber, Parsley + Sun-dried Tomatoes


Having cooked the remainder of my 3kg (!) bag of dried chickpeas for the various dishes I made for the picnic at the weekend, I had just enough cooked chickpeas left for another salad.

I packed this flavourful dish in a Tupperware to take with me baby-sitting last night and it was a nice light dinner along with a bowl of veggie soup the kids’ Mum had made- enjoyed in peace and quiet after the little ones were tucked up!

Chickpea Salad with Cucumber, Parsley + Sun-dried Tomatoes

Zingy and light, but satisfying, with a good range of textures.  Just what I like in a salad.

Chickpea Salad with Cucumber, Parsley + Sun-dried Tomatoes

Gather ingredients. Chop chop chop. Add your dressing. Mix it up.

Chickpea Salad with Cucumber, Parsley + Sun-dried Tomatoes

The flavour improves after a sit in the fridge for a couple of hours so prepare in advance if you can.

Chickpea Salad with Cucumber, Parsley + Sun-dried Tomatoes:

1 3/4 C Cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 Large cucumber, halved lengthwise and chopped into thin slices
1/2 Red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 C Dry-Packed Sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water to rehydrate and thinly sliced
Bunch Parsley, roughly chopped (approx 1/3 C loosely packed)
Few Leaves Basil, julienned
2T Lemon Juice
1 T Olive Oil
Salt + Pepper

Serves 2-3 as a light meal