Ancient grains are all the rage. Considered unaltered throughout the years, they are supposed to be healthier and unadulterated compared to modern grains. Millet, quinoa, amaranth and kamut are all have numerous magazine and newspaper articles devoted to singing their praises. But there is one ancient grain that has yet to made headlines despite its merits. That grain is freekeh.
Freekeh is roasted green wheat. The legend behind its creation is that a Middle Eastern village was attacked and had its entire crop of young green wheat set on fire. Instead of writing off the loss, the villagers removed the chaff, cooked up the berries and made a delicious discovery.
Getting freekeh today isn’t much easier than it was back then. It’s not stocked in the average supermarket but is affordably priced on Amazon.com. Expect to pay $6-$7 for an 8-ounce package in specialty stores. Amazon sells a double pack for around $7, which makes it a steal – especially if you can stock up.
The roasting process makes freekeh quick to cook up. It only takes about 20 minutes for the grains to be al dente. Cook it for 30 minutes if you like a softer texture. The process is similar to rice: Take 8 ounces of freekeh, add 2 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 20 to 25 minutes.
Nutritionally, freekeh is a protein powerhouse with 16 grams of protein per prepared cup and 8 grams of fiber. By comparison, quinoa has 12 grams of protein per cup.
In our home, we’ve started replacing brown rice with freekeh. It doesn’t seem to spike my husband’s blood sugar as much as rice, and we all love the chewy texture.
I like to prepare a batch with vegetable broth and stir in sautéed carrot, celery and green onion before serving. It also makes for a great cold salad when mixed with a tangy citrus dressing, berries, pumpkin seeds, raw summer corn and chickpeas.
It’s fun, it’s something a little different and it’s versatile enough to replace just about any popular grain in your favorite recipes. Go ahead. Try something new. Try freekeh.