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Freekeh, Made Simple

There’s been a lot of buzz around freekeh lately, which feels both a strange and welcomed trend.  Growing up, I knew “Freekeh” as the dish made for a large party, special occasions or any event that required a dish large enough to feed a crowd. I never paused for a moment to realize this well known dish is named for its main ingredient. In Arabic, the name of a dish and the name of its primary staple are often one in the same. A friend of mine chuckled when I once momentarily interchanged languages and referred to garbanzo beans as hummus.  “No I’m talking about the bean,” she said. To which I responded, “Yea, so am I.” “No, not the dip” — and that bit went on for about a minute. Is there a specific word for garbanzo beans in Arabic? Probably. Feel free to share if you know it.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of interest and familiarity in freekeh from customers who never cooked with it but were eager to make it the new essential in their pantry.

So I had my own discovery with freekeh: as a side, as a pilaf, as an easy and filling solution to nothing in the fridge. Traditionally, as a large platter, it’s topped with chicken or sometimes lamb. Certainly your favorite meat protein can still be added, but for this post, I opted to make a vegetarian power bowl  in order to focus on a basic freekeh recipe,  which takes about 15 minutes total to make. The video below reflects 1 cup of freekeh, for 2 to 3 servings. The full box will serve a family, or if you’re someone who likes to cook one main item to store for the week, you can get creative by making a grain bowl one day, or a big hearty salad topped with a spoon or two of freekeh another.

Two things not shown in the making of the zucchini medley:

Salt sprinkled proportionately over the cut vegetables before going into the oven (I like using Himalayan Sea Salt.)

Chopped, fresh mint leaves tossed into the medley once out of the oven.  Toss in any of your favorite fresh herbs like basil, cilantro or parsley. Or perhaps some chili pepper!

Once you piece together this flavorful power bowl, you’re in for a good helping of the fiber and protein. Personally, after having this freekeh bowl, I noticed a curb in sugar and carb cravings more so than with a brown rice dish. I’m starting to understand how this ancient grain is coming to the fore, and am all the more appreciative of culinary traditions passed down through generations.

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