Do you want to get freek-eh with me? If you don't know the answer to that question then let me tell you the answer is YES. Freekeh has got to be the trendiest grain going around. Found on nearly every cafe menu and featured in food magazines by the bucketful, I'm hoping most of you have tried this wonderful grain already.
Freekeh is a green wheat grain that is roasted in it's production process. As it has a high moisture content, the grain does not burn from being heated. Instead, the roasting creates it's chewy and delicious texture. The grain is then sundried and either kept whole or later cracked to make cracked freekeh.
Nutritionally, freekeh is a bomb of insoluble fibre. It contains up to four times more of the good stuff than other comparable grains part of which is resistant starch, the food that our good gut bacteria feeds on. By including more resistant starch in your diet you are allowing a greater population of beneficial bacteria to proliferate, outweighing the bad bacteria that might be growing in your digestive system. This is an important process to keep in mind particularly if you suffer from digestive disorders, colorectal cancer (or have a family history of colorectal cancer) and bowel disease. For the general population, having a good source of resistant starch in your diet is as important as having your 'five a day' as we all need a little bit of bacteria loving regardless of our health situation. After all, those little guys are responsible for our immune function, our toxin metabolism, hormone break down, skin health and nutrient absorption.
Freekeh also contains a good amount of iron with 100 grams giving you around 35% of your daily recommended intake (for the average female). It's not all steak and sausages if you don't want it to be. As freekeh is a plant-source or non-heme source of iron, it's best to pair it with a vitamin C containing food such as lemon to enhance the absorption of the mineral. This recipe takes care of that with adequate amounts of C found in parsley, coriander, lemon juice and pomegranate. Vitamin C everywhere!
This salad recipe (originally from George Colombaris' Hellenic Republic restaurant) is beautifully toasty, crunchy, herby, sweet, spicy and satisfying. Each bite gives you a little bit of each ingredient making it a well-rounded addition to any meal or as a meal on it's own.
If you're not going to attempt to make this salad yourself I suggest you either forward the recipe onto someone who will make it for you or if you live in Melbourne then head to Jimmy Grants, Hellenic Republic, Gazi or Mastic to try out the exact same salad or something very similar. But trust me when I say you can make this salad just as well on your own and you won't be disappointed if you have left-overs because there is nothing better than coming back to this salad the day after.
2 cups wholegrain freekeh
1 cup green lentils
200g greek yoghurt
2 tspn cumin seeds
1 tbsp honey
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 bunch coriander, chopped
2 tbsp slivered almonds
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup currants
2 tbsp capers
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pomegranate, de-seeded
1. Cook your grains according to the directions on the back of the packaging. Cook in water or vegetable stock. Once cooked through, spread out on a tray to cool.
2. Make the yoghurt dressing by toasting the cumin seeds on a dry pan until the seeds become fragrant. Grind them down into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle and place into a jar. Add the yoghurt and honey to the jar and combine well. Leave in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Toast your nuts and seeds on the same dry pan one by one or all together depending on the size of your pan. Once golden and well-toasted, transfer them to your serving bowl.
4. Add the chopped parsley, coriander, currants, capers, lemon juice, and olive oil to the serving bowl and mix everything together thoroughly. Doing this means your ingredients will be evenly spread when you mix in the grains.
5. Once your grains are cool, add them to the mixing bowl and toss again ensuring that everything is well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
6. When you're ready to serve, pour the yoghurt dressing over the grains and smash out a whole pomegranate's worth of jewels on to the top. Beautiful and delicious!
- Vegan option - opt for a plant-based yoghurt with a neutral flavour. Natural Coyo would work well. Let me know if you try it and how it ends up.
- This recipe is easily doubled for larger groups or easily halved for smaller ones. However, I suggest you don't halve the recipe and just keep the rest for yourself to eat for the next few days (you will be craving it, I promise)
- If you're a meat-eater and want to make more of a meal out of this, try adding some sustainable canned tuna on top. I'm sure it would compliment the salad well.
- When cooking your grains, you can cook them both together as they generally take around the same time to cook (around 35 minutes). Rinse the grains under cold water once they have been cooked to cool them down and prevent them from steaming each other out of shape and texture.