Ancient grains have been getting a lot of airplay recently. Chances are you know all about quinoa, the high-protein ‘superfood’ of South American origin that has taken the world by storm. If, like me, you’re not a fan of quinoa’s flavour, don’t fret; you can still get on the ancient grain bandwagon. Let me introduce you to freekeh, traditionally eaten in the Middle East and North Africa.
What is freekeh?
Wheat grains are picked while still green and then roasted, imparting a toasty, nutty flavour. Freekeh retains more nutrients than regular (mature) wheat, as the grains are young when harvested. Freekeh is high in fibre and has a low glycemic index.
Where can I get it from?
Freekeh is available from health food shops and specialty food stores. As far as I know it’s not yet available in major supermarkets. So far I’ve been able to find it at Toscano’s grocers and Essential Ingredient in Melbourne.
How do I use it?
Freekeh can be used in place of any other grain like quinoa, rice or pearl barley. Serve freekeh as a side dish to a main meal or use it in soups or salads.
One of my favourite ways to eat freekeh is in a fresh, herby Middle-Eastern inspired salad. It’s great as an accompaniment to a spice-rubbed steak, fragrant tagine or even eaten as a meal on its own.
- 1 cup freekeh
- 2 cups vegetable stock (preferably a reduced salt variety)
- 1 can brown lentils, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1/2 bunch mint, chopped
- 1/4 red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 lemon
- Greek yoghurt/labne to serve
Combine freekeh and stock in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 10 minutes and then leave to stand for 5 minutes. Drain away excess liquid and combine with other ingredients. Squeeze lemon over salad and serve with labne or Greek yoghurt.