Freekeh! Yes say it Freeeeakay how good does feel? I made this just so I could say to everyone at the dinner table “Lets get Freeeeakay!” What is it? Only the latest and newest ancient superfood haha isn’t that an oxymoron?
Freekeh is an ancient Eastern Mediterranean grain food, made from roasted green wheat. Because the grain is harvested while young it has a far higher nutrient content, including more protein, than mature wheat. It has four times the fibre content of brown rice and a large proportion of the carbohydrate present is resistant starch. This means we can’t break it down and it passes through to the large intestine where it promotes the growth of the lovely good bacteria that keep out gut healthy. Freekeh also has a really low GI so it is ideal for controlling blood sugar levels and its a good source of several nutrients including iron, magnesium, thiamine, copper and zinc.
I used to be carb-phobic and scorned anything with grains. Instead I ate a lot of meat. I was living in Spain at the time and it was not hard to snack consistently on salamis or parma ham and other cured meats. I thought I was doing the right thing by staying low carb but I definitely wasn’t healthy. I started to include some wholegrains like brown rice into my diet and found that I felt way more balanced. I also felt so free not having to steer clear of foods on my ever-changing shit list. I still try as much as possible to not use processed foods in my meals and crowd them out with wholefoods, but now I love exploring new wholegrains and pulses and having a few meatless meals a week feels good. That being said this dish is incredible with a little chorizo added in if meatless meals aren’t for you.
I had few people asking me how to use labne from my post I did here so I thought I would show you. You can buy labne in the shops although it’s not that common here in Australia. For this recipe if you can’t get your hands on some or if you don’t have time to make any you can just add a dollop of greek yogurt over the top. It cuts right through the richness of the tomato and is just heavenly.
To soak or not to soak grains and pulses? If you remember in time why not give them a soak it helps to break down phytic acid which is what wreaks havoc on the digestion of people with sensitive guts. Even if you process grains and pulses well it doesn’t hurt to give your body a helping hand.
This makes a great cook once eat twice meal so remember to double up the recipe if you want leftovers.
- 2 onion diced
- 1 small dried red chilli
- 10 semi dried tomatoes sliced
- 1 red pepper sliced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup passata
- 1 can diced tomatoes (400g)
- 1 cup freekeh
- 1 cup red kidney beans
- ⅔ cup french lentils
- 2T sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 cups good quality vegetable stock
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small bunch of thyme to serve
- lemon wedges to serve
- Using glass jars, soak the freekeh and kidney beans overnight.
- Heat a large thick based saucepan or a crockpot over medium heat; cook 1 diced onion and the crushed garlic until tender. Add the vegetable stock, passata and canned diced tomatoes and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and allowing to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the drained freekeh and kidney beans. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and half the sweet smoked paprika.
- Cover and allow to simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- At the 20 minute mark, add the rinsed lentils.
- Simmer for a further 20 minutes adding more vegetable stock if needed until the freekeh is just cooked through, and the beans and lentils are soft. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix through.
- Heat a separate frying pan and cook the remaining onion, red pepper and dried chilli until tender. Add the semi dried tomatoes. Season with 1T smoked paprika, salt and pepper
- Serve the risotto with a few small labne balls or a dollop of greek yogurt and top with the red pepper /onion/semi-dried tomato mix and finish it all off with a sprig of thyme and a squeeze of lemon.
- Serves : 4