Have you ever heard of freekeh? (Pronounced free-kah) Nope, neither had I up until a few days ago. Freekeh is an ancient grain traditionally used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is made from green durum wheat that is roasted and rubbed to create a very unique flavor, texture and color. It is popular along the Mediterranean Basin in countries like Tunisia, Syria, Palestine, Algerian, Turkey and Egypt.
Freekeh is a whole grain that’s got twice the amount of protein and fiber compared to quinoa! That’s quite a bit if you ask me, coming in at 14 grams per 3.5 oz (100g) serving. It is also an excellent source of manganese, magnesium and iron along with many other vitamins and minerals.
Culinary Ideas Using Freekeh
A typical dish made using freekeh is hamam bi’l-farik which features stuffed pigeon with green wheat. Sounds quite interesting, doesn’t it? Common seasonings include cumin, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and garlic. You can pair your dish with veggies such as tomatoes, onions and green peas for a more interesting flavor profile and added nutrition.
Freekeh has an earthy and nutty flavor thanks to its roasting and rubbing process. It is a super versatile grain so you can use in either sweet or savory dishes. Simply replace your favorite whole grain in any given recipe, such as a hot cereal in the morning instead of oats or sprinkle the cooked grain on a green salad. You can also serve it plain alongside grilled chicken, lamb or or fish.
To cook simmer in water in a medium saucepan for 20 minutes. Store uncooked freekeh in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator for a longer shelf-life. You can also store it cooked in the freezer for up to three months and add it to your favorite soups as needed. You can also make a cold salad with it such as the one below. Using cooked freekeh, toss with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, caramelized red onions, garlic, ginger and your favorite spices. Et voila!
Note that freekeh is a wheat-containing grain, so it is not gluten-free. Several brands offer organic, harvested in the US options such as this one HERE. Otherwise, try to find it at your local health food store or Middle Eastern market.
So, are you willing to give this grain a try? I will sure be incorporating it into some of my favorite recipes soon.
What’s your favorite whole grain? Have you tried freekeh? Let me know in the comments below!