Did you know that September is National Whole Grains Month? Me neither. The good people at Freekehlicious asked me to try this young roasted green wheat, so I have been playing with it these past few weeks. The cracked freekeh is my favorite and I created this absolutely delicious Freekeh Salad loosely based on a farro salad recipe from the Zuni Café cookbook.
I love farro, another whole grain, so I wondered what was the difference between the two. In taste, farro is a bit more chewy. I liken the cracked freekeh a bit more to bulger, but a little larger in size. Freekeh is a whole grain that is very satisfying. I served this salad with a broiled steak and some blanched sugar snap peas and I literally stopped eating the steak after two bites and had seconds on this salad instead!
So what is freekeh? It is wheat that is harvested while still young and green, then parched, roasted and dried. I’m told that this process captures and retains the grains at the state of peak taste and nutrition. Full of health benefits and it does a good job of making you feel full, so it’s great for dieters.
They say you can also make this as a breakfast cereal. I once had a nanny for our kids, that when I asked her to make polenta for dinner, she added sugar, because she had only eaten it as a breakfast cereal! The sweet polenta did not go over well as a dinner side.
But this salad will, so try it and try freekeh. Although the name is funny, the taste is delicious! I also found it needed a few minutes longer in cooking than the package directions stated. Taste and tenderness should be your barometer.
FREEKEH SALAD – serves 4
1 cup cracked freekeh
3 cups of water
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
Pepper, fresh ground
1 cup cherry or sunny gold tomatoes, halved
7 – 8 anchovies packed in oil, drained and patted dry, and minced
4 oz. cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and diced
Large handful of basil leaves, washed, dried and torn
Place freekeh and water in a small saucepan and lightly salt with coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 – 30 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and let sit in pot for 5 minutes longer. Drain and spread out on a sheet pan to cool.
Whisk together the sherry vinegar and olive oil. You should barely taste the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When freekeh is cool, transfer it to a bowl and fold in the tomatoes, anchovies and cucumber. Drizzle on the vinegar and olive oil dressing and scatter the basil leaves on top. Fold all to combine. Serve with LOVE immediately. (Do not let this sit around as the brightness of all the ingredients will fade.) Enjoy!