Get your freekeh on

Today I cooked with freekeh for the first time, a wheat grain used heavily in Palestinian cooking.

Bath can be a bit barren when it comes to diverse ingredients, so I got over-excited this weekend when we visited friends in London and discovered their local Middle Eastern grocery.

I bought freekeh as I wanted to find out how it varies from similar grains like bulgar wheat. Having made a salad with it this evening I noticed the difference straight away. It’s got a nutty and smoky flavour that's different to anything I’ve tasted before, and is utterly gorgeous.

 Freekeh - young, green wheat

Freekeh - young, green wheat

Freekeh (yes I also struggle to say it without sounding like an idiot) is wheat that’s been harvested while young and green. It’s roasted, and once the husks are removed the grain inside is left for cooking. It’s the roasting process that gives it that smoky, earthy flavour.

 Cooked freekeh - good enough to eat on its own

Cooked freekeh - good enough to eat on its own

You can make pilafs and stews with freekeh, or use it to thicken soups. A quick read up tells me that it’s ridiculously good for you – high in protein and fibre, low in GI – but really, the only thing we need to care about is that it tastes divine.

Time to have strong words with the food shops of Bath.

 Freekeh salad. The very definition of yum

Freekeh salad. The very definition of yum

Freekeh salad (Rick Stein)

Ingredients:

200g/7oz freekeh, pearled spelt or pearled barley

5 tbsp olive oil

4 spring onions, finely chopped

1 pomegranate, seeds only

handful flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped

handful mint, roughly chopped 

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp pistachios, roughly crushed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the freekeh and 1 litre/1¾ pint water in a pan together with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and allow to cool.

2. When cool, mix together the freekeh with the spring onions, pomegranate seeds and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the pomegranate molasses with a pinch of salt, and dress the salad with it, mixing gently. Serve topped with pistachios.