Freekeh with Black Beans and Avocado Dressing

“A whole-grain meal loaded with vegetables and pumpkins seeds then topped with a bright dressing made with fresh avocado, lime and cilantro.”

In the quest to be the best dietitian I can be, I have been working diligently to incorporate more, “new” whole grains into my (and my family, friends’ and clients’) recipes. I have to admit, for a while I was stuck on quinoa. It’s simple and versatile…it was a love affair for sure. That love affair continues, but I am opening my mind to new, wonderful grains like freekeh. It’s just as easy to cook and just as easy to love. In fact, it’s a lovely platform for this freekeh with black beans and avocado dressing recipe.

Freekeh is actually a process and not a food. According to the people at Freekeh Foods, the birth of freekeh was the result of misfortune. The story goes like this: “An ancient Middle Eastern village was attacked and their young wheat fields were set ablaze. In attempts to salvage their crops, the villagers rubbed away the burnt chaff and found that the roasted kernels inside were delicious!” How resourceful those ancient villagers were! Freekeh has a fun history, but it’s also a superstar, nutritionally speaking. It has plenty of fiber and protein as well as zinc and iron. It has a hearty texture, almost like really coarse, thick bulgur and it tastes earthy. This makes it an ideal substitute for rice and other whole grain dishes.

Because I am a huge fan of black beans and avocados, I figured I would try a recipe with freekeh that incorporated those two ingredients. Let’s just say it was a winner. The freekeh is a beautiful complement to the bright avocado dressing and the fresh vegetables. The cilantro and pumpkin seeds add crunch and freshness. The black beans boost the protein and fiber content even more, making it a great meal for vegans and vegetarians.

Food Safety Tip: If desired, transfer leftovers to Mason jars and layer the ingredients for a fun and easy way to transport them to work. Portion dressing in a separate container. Once you get to work, store your lunch in the refrigerator to prevent potential food poisoning. Also, place your lunch on a shelf inside the refrigerator, and not on the shelves on the inside of the refrigerator door. Your food will stay the coldest and safest.

Freekeh with Black Beans and Avocado Dressing

1 cup freekeh

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • ¼ cup cilantro washed and chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounce can) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 green onions, white and light green parts only, washed, thinly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, washed, seeded and stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, washed, halved if large
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpking seeds
  • For the dressing:

    • 1/2 lime, juiced
    • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), washed
    • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
    • 1/2 avocado (flesh only)
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt and black pepper)


    1. Place the freekeh, water and salt in a saucepan. Stir then set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that mixture is simmering, then cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
    2. Once freekeh is cooked, drain any excess water from pan and then let it cool. Toss with freshly chopped cilantro.
    3. In a blender or food processor combine the lime juice, water, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, avocado, honey, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine, then puree until smooth.
    4. To serve: Place the freekeh in a large serving bowl. Top with black beans, green onions, bell pepper, tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with salad dressing or serve dressing on the side. Alternatively, set up the freekeh toppings as "do-it-yourself" bar and have family or guests build the dish how they like.
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    Sara Haas
    Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based dietitian and co-author of the Fertility Foods Cookbook. Read her blog, The Cooking RD, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.