A couple of years ago, I tried adding a larger variety of grains to my diet, because I felt that I was in a bit of a culinary rut and because whole grains are good for us and most of us do not eat enough of them. I wish I loved the readily available powerhouse that is quinoa more, but I don't, so I had to look a bit further afield to find grains that I actually did like such as barley, bulghur, farro, millet, wild rice, and freekeh, all of which I eat regularly. I make this freekeh pilaf, or a version thereof because it is very adaptable, fairly often. It stands up to strong flavors, has a great mouthfeel, and is tasty both hot and room temperature.
For those who have yet to come across freekeh, it is a nutty tasting dried green wheat that has been roasted. I personally prefer the fine ground version to the coarse. It is rich in iron, calcium and zinc, provides one with over 50% of one's daily requirement of manganese, not to mention the fact that it contains double the fiber and three times the protein of wild rice. And it is quite delicious.
This recipe makes two servings. I usually have one portion, hot, with whatever I am having for dinner (see image below) and the second serving for lunch the next day, either as part of a "Buddha" Bowl, with various vegetables and perhaps some kimchi or combined with some cooked chickpeas for a quick lunch.
3/4 cup of freekeh, rinsed
1 1/4 cups of water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/2 white onion, diced
1 cup diced vegetables (above I used diced carrots only, but you can use pretty much anything you have in your fridge, or feel like eating. You can also add a generous tablespoon of chopped herbs at the end, which will also change the flavor palate. And, you can also add some raisins or chopped apricots as a foil, if you serve this with, say, lamb chops, or a dish that has a Middle eastern spice component)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
2 tsps butter
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, carrot and spices and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the onion has started to soften.
Add the freekeh to the pan. Stir to combine with the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so to slightly toast the grain, before adding the stock to the pan.
Stir to combine, lower the heat slightly, cover and cook for fifteen minutes. Check at the ten minute mark; if the pan is starting to look a little dry, stir in an additional quarter cup of water or stock.
Remove from the heat, add the butter, and set aside for five additional minutes, covering it again, so that the grain can steam a bit and absorb the residual liquid.
After five minutes, stir in the now melted butter, check for seasoning, stir in the chopped herbs (if using) and serve your version of this as a side dish in much the same manner you would rice or couscous.