How to Cook with Freekeh
There's a new superfood in town and it's going by the name of freekeh (pronounced free-ka). This ancient way of processing green grain starts with soft immature wheat, which is then fire-roasted and sometimes cracked. With a nutrient profile that rivals quinoa, freekeh is poised to take over the health-food spotlight.
Freekeh hails from the Middle East and is traditionally produced by amassing young wheat in a pile and setting it ablaze. The burned chaff is vigorously rubbed off, leaving behind deliciously roasted avocado-hued kernels. The name, in fact, translates to "rubbed one."
This toasty grain is rich in protein and may contain four times as much fibre and iron as brown rice. Its low glycemic index means it's processed slowly, benefitting energy levels and waistlines alike.
The nutty smoky flavour and texture, reminiscent of bulgur, make freekeh the perfect backdrop for harvest-themed pilafs or whole-grain salads with dried fruit, nuts and a tangy dressing. In traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, it's eaten as an accompaniment to warmly spiced lamb and fragranced with cinnamon and cumin.
To cook these fire-kissed kernels, combine one cup of freekeh with five cups of salted water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until tender.
Once hard to track down outside of exotic markets and specialty shops, freekeh is now cropping up at mainstream grocery stores such as select Loblaws and Superstore locations. It's sure to catch on like wildfire.
Photography, Ryan Brook.