Getting Freekeh with freekeh salad
Just when we finally learned how to pronounce ‘quinoa’, there’s a new (but very old) grain on the rise. Freekeh is an ancient Palestinian grain with a fascinating history & a nutty, smokey flavour. It is low in gluten, has more fiber than brown rice, contains more minerals & vitamins than most grains & is low-fat and high-protein (2x more than quinoa). At 43, It is also lower on the glycemic index. It is a great source of iron, calcium & zinc (all the nutrients that meat-eaters tell me I need to get from animal products). Finally, it acts as a probiotic, enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
If you like this freekeh salad recipe, make sure to check out my Minted Persian quinoa salad recipe, or any of my other salad recipes or Middle Eastern dishes.
After a stressful week and the reception of some good news, a celebration was in order. So, my mum, my sister and I headed to Abu Dhabi for some much-enjoyed R&R. We stayed with our dear friend, Nic and Rick, at their lovely apartment overlooking the beach. We were only there for a night, but it was definitely worth the drive over! In the morning, Nic prepared a beautiful vegan freekeh salad (she also brought me tofu and veggies so that I could make this tofu scramble while they had scrambled eggs). I loved it so much that I thought I’d post a recipe for you guys!
WHAT IS FREEKEH?
Freekeh is a whole grain, like bulgur, used in many traditional Palestinian/Levantine dishes. It is young, green wheat that has been toasted and cracked. Legend has it that it was discovered around 2300 BC when people, worried about an incoming attack. They picked their wheat crops prematurely. When the city came under fire, the young wheat was set ablaze. Farmers were distraught at the destruction of their harvest but then realized that they could ‘rub’ the burnt wheat and cook the small grain revealed within. They rather appropriately named the new grain “freekeh”, meaning “rubbed”. Due to the process by which it is processed (picked unripe and roasted over a slow flame to remove the husks), it has a very nutty and slightly smoky flavour, which makes it a very fragrant and hearty edition to stews.
It is just one of the grains that has seen a resurgence with the trendy rise of ancient super-foods such as quinoa, goji berries, maca and teff.
In this recipe for freekeh salad, it is paired with a tart lemony dressing, grounding herbs and fresh, tart pomegranates for a little juicy sweetness.
Ottolenghi says that when he gets parents’ house in the hills around Jerusalem, the first thing he does is rush to the local Arab grocer to buy a bag. “‘Depth’ and ‘earthy’ are words bandied about liberally in the world of food, but freekeh is the real deal,” he says. “I’m addicted to it.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FREEKEH?
Because of its premature harvest, it is relatively low in gluten (though not totally gluten-free, so those with Celiacs should avoid it). It has more fiber than brown rice and contains more minerals and vitamins than most grains. It is low fat and high protein (2x more than quinoa). A 40g serve has 6g fiber and 6gprotein vs. 3g fiber and 5.5g protein in quinoa.
Freekeh Salad Recipe
Just when we finally learned how to pronounce 'quinoa', there's a new (but very old) grain on the rise. Freekeh is an ancient Palestinian grain with a fascinating history & a nutty, smokey flavour. It is low in gluten, has more fiber than brown rice, contains more minerals & vitamins than most grains & is low-fat and high-protein (2x more than quinoa). At 43, It is also lower on the glycemic index. It is a great source of iron, calcium & zinc (all the nutrients that meat-eaters tell me I need to get from animal products). Finally, it acts as a probiotic, enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- 3 cups cooked freekeh
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped
- Handful of spring onions diced very finely
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas*
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1/4 t cumin
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix garlic, cumin, lemon juice and olive oil, if using, together. This is your dressing
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large salad bowl
Drizzle dressing overtop and mix
The salad will be okay for a few days in the refrigerator, but it will go softer and 'mushier' over time so it is best eaten fresh.
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