What Is Freekeh?
In short, freekeh is wheat, nothing else. That's it. Well, there's a bit more, so keep reading. Freekeh is young green wheat that has been toasted and cracked. It's a healthy whole grain food, much like bulgur wheat, wheat berries and other whole grains.
Although freekeh has been around for centuries, its recent resurgence can be traced back to an Oprah segment in which freekeh was featured in 2010.
Freekeh is part of the "ancient grain" food and health trend that also includes quinoa and teff and is very popular amongst vegetarians and vegans. You might occasionally see freekeh called farik or even frik.
Why Should I Eat Freekeh?
- Fiber, fiber, fiber! The incredibly high fiber content of freekeh has been credited with weightloss (since fiber fills you up and keeps you feeling full), and, if you're not eating a healthy well-balanced diet already, you could probably use more fiber in your diet.
- Whole grains such as freekeh are full of essential nutrients such as selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Like quinoa, freekeh makes an excellent source of protein for vegetarian and vegans
Where to Find Freekeh
My local Whole Foods stocks cracked freekeh along with the other packaged whole grains, but not in bulk - yet! I've occasionally found freekeh in the ethnic foods aisle, along with other Middle-Eastern foods.
Wegman's and many smaller co-ops and organic grocers stock this grain as well. Freekeh importers have store locators on their website. Here's one, and of course, it's widely available online. It also comes pre-flavored in tamari or rosemary sage flavor. If you've got a local Middle Eastern grocer, they might also stock an imported brand.
See also: Shop for freekeh online
Cooking with Freekeh
Like bulgur wheat freekeh is a whole grain, but is usually sold cracked which increases its usability, since the cooking time is reduced but doesn't change its nutritional content. Cracked or not, freekeh is a healthy whole grain. Whole freekeh (uncracked) takes about 45-50 minutes to simmer, while the cracked variety takes about 15-20 minutes to soften.
To prepare freekeh, you'll want a little bit more than a 2:1 ratio of liquid to freekeh, so about 2 1/2 cups of water or vegetable broth for every cup of freekeh. Simmer freekeh, covered, for 15-20 minutes. When the liquid is absorbed and the grains are soft, they're ready to be used. Like pasta, some people prefer to cook freekeh in salted water with a bit of oil, but this is a personal preference.
If you're already used to cooking with whole grains, then you'll have plenty of ideas for using freekeh, from whole grain salads, to pilafs, stir-fries, risottos, tabouli and soups. If you can do it with rice, you can probably do it with freekeh. Freekeh sushi, anyone?
Freekeh Nutritional Information
With less than a gram of fat per serving, freekeh is a low-fat and nearly fat-free food, and, of course, it's vegetarian and vegan, though since it's wheat, it's not gluten-free.
A serving of freekeh (one-fourth cup, raw) contains a healthy 8 grams of protein, less than 130 calories, and 4 grams of fiber. Vegetarians and vegans should note that freekeh also contains plenty of zinc if that's one of your concerns. And ladies, it's also if that's one of your concerns. And ladies, it's also high in iron.
- Curried sweet potato and freekeh pilaf
- Freekeh tabouli
- Roasted beet salad with freekeh
- Hearty meatless kale and freekeh stew with roasted sweet potatoes
- Vegetarian lentil salad with freekeh