I love carbs. For me, a properly plated dinner has a protein-rich food — from animal or plant sources, doesn’t matter — veggies and a grain food of some type. When my now-husband and I were dating, he credited me with introducing him to couscous, favoring the pearled, Israeli-style over our usual go-to grain of white or brown rice. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with other grains.
Several months ago, I attended a trade show and sampled a dish that contained freekeh, a whole grain made from immature wheat grains. Freekeh — pronounced FREE-kah — is harvested while the grain is still green, maximizing its fiber, protein and nutritional profile. It’s a hearty grain with a similar toothiness to farro, a close cousin to barley, and when it cooks it smells like bacon (yes, really!). But rest assured that freekeh is completely vegan, but not gluten-free, since it is made from wheat.
Freekeh cooks similar to quinoa in that it requires about 2½ cups water for every 1 cup of grain. It is not quite as mainstream as quinoa, and finding it at your grocery store might be difficult. I went to three different stores before ultimately finding it at a local natural foods grocery chain. You also can order it online.
I recently brought a freekeh salad to a neighborhood potluck, and everyone was asking for the recipe. You can use any combination of vegetables you like — I just used what happened to be on-hand when I was pulling this salad together. This makes for delicious leftovers — I placed a sliced, hardboiled egg on top for a complete lunch the next day!
- 2½ cups water or stock
- 1 cup freekeh
- ¼ cup shredded Pecorino Romano or other sharp cheese
- 2 chopped Roma tomatoes
- ½ chopped red onion
- ½ cup frozen peas & carrots, thawed (I’ve also used fresh, uncooked broccoli, which has more crunch)
- Place water or stock and freekeh in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.
- While freekeh is cooking, place cheese, tomatoes, onions and peas & carrots (or other veggies of choice) in a bowl.
- Add cooked freekeh to bowl. It’s OK if the freekeh is still hot — it will soften any raw veggies and slightly melt the cheese.
- Toss well and serve either warm or chilled.