Just when I finally learned how to regularly incorporate quinoa in my cuisine, another new grain starts surging in popularity, loaded with nutritional and healthy benefits, containing more protein and double the amount of fiber as quinoa. I’m talking about FREEKEH!
Freekeh, (frikeh, fah-reek or farik) is obtained from wheat that is harvested while the grains are still green, soft and immature. They are gently roasted so only the chaff burn and not the seeds. After roasting the wheat is thrashed and rubbed -thus the name in Arabic fareek, which means rubbed. Grains inside are too moist to burn and the result is a smoky, nutty wheat with a distinct taste.
Recipes passed from one generation to another, have always a special place in our hearts especially if it brings along all the wonderful souvenirs from our childhood.
My dad’s hometown is Jdeidet Marjeyoun, located in the south of Lebanon, where freekeh is part of the town’s culinary heritage. He cooked us meals using Freekeh only on special occasions. For a long time I somehow forgot about this grain, until recently I started to use it more often, and just like my dad “on special occasions”!
This festive recipe brings joy to my guests and family, tasting delicious and looking outstanding. Can easily combined with your favorite chicken recipe, beef or lamb. I chose today to cook it with vegetables and top it with salmon.
The wait is over, time to knock out old recipes and try something different and bedazzling, this Christmas!
Vegetables and Smoked Salmon Freekeh
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium size white onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups frikeh, washed and soaked at least 1 hour
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 cup zucchini, diced
- ¾ cup carrots, diced
- ½ cup artichoke bottoms, diced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Thyme leaves (optional)
- Smoked Salmon, to garnish
1.In a medium saucepan, heat oil and sauté the zucchinis, the carrots and the artichokes until cooked. Season with salt.
2.In a separate heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter and add the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent. Add in the freekeh and cook, for 2 minutes.
3.Add wine to the softened onions and cook until the liquid has evaporated off.
4.Pour in 1 cup of boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat this process until freekeh is thick and creamy; the freekeh should still have some chew to it. Season to taste.
5.If the freekeh is still hard. It has to be cooked with additional boiling water.
6.Once the freekeh is cooked, mix in the vegetables and finish with 1 cup of stock. Let simmer a couple of minutes until it is entirely absorbed.
7.To transfer this meal into a festive dish, put freekeh in a small serving bowl and top it with thyme leaves. Cover the bowl with a dinner plate and flip it swiftly upside down. Decorate it with smoked salmon and lemon wedges and serve immediately.