What I love about this salad is that any hearty grain will do – it's not the go-and-purchase-specifically kind of salad, rather, delve into the pantry and find a grain to suit. I chose freekeh for its brilliant chewiness – it's a great contrast to the pumpkin, sweet and tart orange, charred steak and creamy bitey dressing.
¾ cup freekeh
vegetable stock to cover (about 2 cups)
½ small butternut pumpkin, seeds and pulp removed
2 tbsp olive oil
300g eye fillet, at room temperature
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 blood orange, peeled, segmented and sliced into bite-size pieces
¼ cup pomegranate arils
pea shoots (tendrils) and edible flowers to scatter (optional, replace with watercress if unavailable)
Spicy mustard dressing
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup apple juice
½-¾ cup olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).
2. Add the mustard dressing ingredients to a bowl, starting with ½ cup of the oil, and adding more if required. Whisk to combine – it should emulsify and become creamy. Set aside.
3. Add the freekeh to a medium-sized saucepan. Slowly add the stock until the liquid sits about 2cm above the grains. Bring to the boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until just cooked through – it should still have some bite. Keep an eye on it as the stock evaporates – you don't want grains sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once cooked, cover with the lid and let the grains steam in the residual heat for about 3-5 minutes.
4. While the freekeh is cooking, chop the pumpkin into even-sized chunks and place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool on the tray.
5. Once the pumpkin and grains have cooled, add to a large bowl and gently toss to combine.
6. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and once very hot, add the steaks, and sear on one side for up to 3 minutes before turning and cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Remove from pan and allow to rest for 3 minutes.
7. While the steak is resting, add the herbs, orange and pomegranate to the grain and pumpkin mixture and toss gently.
8. Transfer the salad onto a serving platter. Slice the steak along the grain and place on top. Spoon over some of the dressing, season with salt and pepper and serve.