Monday, July 22, 2013

The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 4

Freekeh is an ancient grain, and has been enjoyed for centuries in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. Freekeh (pronounced "free-kah") is gaining popularity in American kitchens, and it too has noted health benefits. It has four times the fiber of brown rice, which helps keep blood sugar low, and it has powerful vision protectors, compared to other grains. It's also known to help increase healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. It compares well to other healthy grains such as quinoa and farro.

Freekeh is made from young wheat, typically durum, that is harvested while still green. It's put through a roasting and rubbing process during production. It has a smoky, nutty flavor and a firm, chewy texture similar to bulgur. This is the way it's produced.

(YouTube link)

If that doesn't scare you away, you'll find Freekeh to be versatile and easy to work with in the kitchen. It cooks in 20 minutes and can easily be substituted for rice. It can be eaten as a cereal, in the form of puddings, in soups, casseroles or even enjoyed as a pilaf/side dish. [1]

Here's some more background, and a cooking demo.

(YouTube link)

This isn't a Middle Eastern dish, but it does incorporate Freekeh into a healthy recipe.

Kale and Freekeh Soup
1 cup wholegrain freekeh, cooked until tender
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped and deveined
2 quarts of  vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a large pot, add onion, garlic and carrots and cook for a few minutes. 
  2. Add kale and vegetable stock (start with 2 litres, add more if necessary) and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. 
  4. Finally, add cooked freekeh to the soup and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Turn off the heat and serve. Serves 4
Related Posts
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 1
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 3 (Bulgur)

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