October 14, 2010

Freekah Salad

Can I talk to you about freekah? Yes, it is freaky. Freakily good, that is.

Freekah (also spelled freekeh and frikeh) is wheat that's been picked while green and then smoked. Cooked, it tastes like a smokier, nuttier wheat berry. If, like me, you happen to love chewy grains, then I urge you to try it. While it may not be on the shelf at your local supermarket, it shouldn't be terribly hard to find. Middle Eastern stores should carry it. I get mine either at Sahadi's on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn or at the local greenmarket. The greenmarket freekah is superior to the boxed kind, and, not surprisingly, twice the price. Compared to other grains, freekah is expensive. But it's worth it.

If you google for freekah recipes, you will come up with a lot of stew-like dishes made with lamb. However, I love chewy whole grains served as room temperature salads, so I decided to make one up. While I cooked the freekah in my pressure cooker (HIMHMILMPC?) I roasted some cauliflower and cut up a leftover artichoke heart I had in my fridge. Then I mixed the warm, cooked freekah with the veggies, some crushed raw garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped fresh herbs. The herbs are key. They take the salad right over the edge into amazing deliciousness.

This salad is best at room temp but can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge until you want to serve it. Of course, the Vegetarian loves it and will take it for lunch all week.

I like the combo of the cauliflower and the smoky freekah, but you could use any vegetable you wanted, really. Also, feel free to add in some feta cheese or some olives or anything else you're inspired to. I'm giving the recipe below without the artichoke heart, because I don't think it's worth cooking an artichoke just for this (and I don't think the canned/jarred ones are good for this—too vinegary). But if you happen to have an extra steamed artichoke lying around the fridge (something that's only happened to me about once in my life, and you're looking at the results) by all means, add it.

So the salad recipe is just a guideline. Mainly, I wanted to spread the gospel about freekah. Try it once, and I promise that, like me, you'll be hookah.

Freekah Salad with Roasted Cauliflower

2 cups freekah
1 head cauliflower (small, medium, or large—it doesn't matter)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
olive oil
juice from one lemon
1-2 cups mixed fresh herbs, some combination of parsley, cilantro, dill, and mint.
salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400.
The freekah is cooked like brown rice. Put the freekah, five cups of water, 1 tsp of salt, and 1tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly, lower heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, until water is absorbed and grains are chewy but still tender.
Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into florets, toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and caramelized.
In a bowl, mix cooked freekah with roasted cauliflower, garlic, and lemon juice. (start with the juice of half a lemon, taste, and add more if you like it more acidic.) Add in herbs and toss again. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour before serving, so flavors can mingle.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wish I could find some Freekah in Asia, am dying to try it.

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