Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What the Freek is Freekeh?

Yes, I finally cooked something!  I had a yen for farro this week, but when I was in the grains section at whole foods this week, I stumbled upon freekeh and decided to give it a try.

"What is Freekeh?" you may ask.  It's roasted green wheat that can be served like rice or pasta.  According to Greenwheat Freekeh, the nutritional advantages of Freekeh include its high percentage of fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc, but low place on the glycemic index scale.  Thus, it's an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans.

Like farro, non-instant rice and other whole grains, there's some cooking time involved.  I brought the freekeh to a boil and let it simmer for 45 minutes.  While the freekeh was cooking, I reconstituted some sun-dried tomatoes in hot water.  Normally, I use fresh tomatoes, but I wanted the bite and texture of sun-dried for this dish.

I then minced shallots and sliced up some fresh brussels sprouts and, when the freekeh had about 15 minutes to go, sauteed them in soy-free earth balance.  I then added some garlic, freshly ground black pepper, the sliced sun-dried tomatoes, salt, some of the poaching liquid from the tomatoes, and a splash of white wine.  I finished the sauce off with red pepper flakes and italian seasoning, and then stirred in some vegetarian friendly parmesan cheese (no rennet was used, and the cows were not given rGBH - check your labels if you want to learn more!).  Vegans can easily omit the parmesan to make this a dairy-free meal.

I am happy with the result - the freekeh was chewy and nutty, and the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes added a nice tang.  The sliced brussels sprouts were a cool contrast, and I liked the aged creaminess the parmesan added to the dish as well.  I have leftovers, so we'll see how it re-heats for lunch tomorrow.

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