Thursday, March 1, 2012

Freekeh - The Green Wheat of the Middle East

Freekeh, the green wheat of the Middle East is perfect for making pilafs! #grains #pilaf #freekeh

Maybe you have heard of freekeh, but I hadn’t; that is until I went to Israel. My friend turned me on to it and with a name like freekeh I guess turned on is apropos. I googled it on the web and came up with quite a few articles about it but I guess I haven’t gotten out much since 2009 which is when these articles started showing up on all the health food blogs. Oh, what is it? It is a grain and probably the next hottest grain compared to quinoa.(If you’d like more info this lady has a good report and more links to recipes –

Actually, it is green wheat. It is harvested while still young and then burned to extract the kernels when it is then polished and ready to eat. Well, I guess that is it in a husk. It was mentioned in Leviticus as being the first grain to be offered as a sacrifice in the spring. And because it was burned it has a distinctive smokey taste though not overpowering. You cook it l as you would any grain; rice being the closest cooking method. Besides being satisfying it is also very healthy. Tons of protein and lots of whole grain. It would be a great substitute for any couscous, quinoa, barley, rice, bulgur dish you know of. It takes well to any seasonings and it is easy and quick to cook. You don’t even have to soak it. Hot or cold-you decide. And I’ve heard that Jamie Oliver likes it. (There you have it!)

 I guess you can find it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s- but well I brought mine home from the source. I can’t read very well so I didn’t quite understand the US Customs rules about bringing in foods with a plant nature. Does that include spices, too? After all, it had been a long night on the plane which hindered my understanding. C’est la vie. Of course security did confiscate my sweet smelling Israeli violet lotion that I bought for my mother and inadvertently put in my carry on. So, if you get some jerk in the Philadelphia airport that smells good and is wearing plastic gloves than I guess you found him. All I can say is that the Israeli security let it pass and well, I know who I’d trust more when it comes to security.

Now let me present freekeh to you- think of it as a spring offering.

Freekeh, the green wheat of the Middle East is perfect for making pilafs! #grains #pilaf #freekeh

2T olive oil
½ c chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 diced jalapeno pepper
1 handful chopped walnuts
1c freekeh
2c chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2t cumin
Cilantro to garnish
Raisins or apricots would also be good!
Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper  in olive oil. When they start to sweat stir in the walnuts. Brown them just a little. Stir in the freekeh. Let cook a minute. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Cover. Check after about 20 minutes. It should be done but if you want it softer add a bit more liquid and cook a little longer.
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro. Raisins or sliced dried apricots stirred in would taste great too. Think of this as any pilaf recipe because all you have to do is substitute the grain. I served this with grilled fish seasoned with sumac. My husband wanted more.

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Freekeh, the green wheat of the Middle East is perfect for making pilafs! #grains #pilaf #freekeh

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  1. Sounds delicious. Thanks! I recently discovered this versatile and healthy grain and my family is hooked.

  2. It is a good one to be hooked on, Betsy! And good for you! Thanks for visiting and hope to see you again soon!

  3. Oh, Abbe! I just love this take on freekeh! So intrigued by the combination of walnuts, jalapeno and cumin! Yum! I'm building a Pinterest board dedicated to Freekeh recipes (which are not as easy to come by as you might think!) - and I'm definitely adding this recipe immediately! I think our hubbies must have similar taste buds - these are the kinds of flavors that my guy loves, too! :D