Freekeh. If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve probably noticed that I use this ancient grain quite often, a few times a week in fact. I grew up eating it in my grandmother’s soothing chicken and freekeh soup, the Middle Eastern version of chicken noodle soup. It wasn’t, however, until I began experimenting in my own kitchen that I came to appreciate the versatility of the flavorful food. Freekeh, which is basically young and green durum wheat that is roasted to bring out its unique flavor, is an excellent substitute to rice or pasta in a variety of dishes ranging from stews to salads. The superfood is highly satisfying as it’s rich in protein and fiber. The best part about it, perhaps, is that it has become more accessible throughout the world. You should be able to find it at your local Middle Eastern grocer and most certainly online.
I especially love freekeh cooked simply and tossed with plenty of herbs and lemon juice to bring out its smoky, nutty, and earthy flavor. In this dish, I combine the grains cooked al dente with flavorful herbs, dried figs, pecans and a deliciously tart pomegranate molasses dressing. It makes for both a delectable meal or side dish. The vibrant colors and textures also make it an excellent choice for entertaining guests. The best aspect about it, however, is its simplicity. Being a matter of merely combining ingredients, you will need less than 20 minutes to make this bowl of yum.
INGREDIENTS/ SERVES 2
2 cups/ 290 gr. whole or cracked freekeh grains, well rinsed
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 a pomegranate, seeded
packed handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
packed handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
packed handful fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced, optional
2 stems green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
4 dried figs, coarsely chopped
good grinding black pepper
1. Pour 4 cups (940 ml.) of boiling water into a medium pot, stir in the freekeh and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Leave to cook for 15 minutes until tender, drain to remove any liquids, and spoon into a serving dish.
2. For the dressing, mix the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, lemon juice, salt (to your taste) and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the freekeh, add the parsley, mint, cilantro, garlic (if using), green onion, figs, and pecans, and toss to combine.
3. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and herbs, and serve with greek yogurt if you like.