Learn how to cook freekeh, a delicious grain with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. Serve it with different proteins or add to salads and soups!
What's so great about Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines is that there are so many grains you can use. We all know about rice and its uses, but there is also bulgur, couscous, and so many others. Freekeh is one of my favorite grains to use regularly. It has a nutty smoky flavor that's just so delicious. Plus, it's super easy to make!
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What Is Freekeh?
Originated in the Middle East, Freekeh is a type of grain made from wheat which is harvested when it's young and green. The grains are dried, cracked and then fire roasted which gives them a subtle smoky flavor. Once roasted, the grains are polished so the skin is removed.
The name freekeh comes from the word "farak" which means "to rub" in Arabic. The word refers to the process of rubbing the wheat grain to remove the skin.
You can purchase this Middle Eastern grain at your local Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shop as well as online. When shopping, you'll notice that there are two types to choose from: whole grain and cracked. Whole grain freekeh has the bran and germ, which means it takes a bit longer for it to cook. Cracked freekeh is similar to bulgur and takes less time to cook.
Benefits of Freekeh
- It may regulate blood sugar levels because of low glycemic index.
- Freekeh is a good source of fiber which helps with digestion.
- It's also high in antioxidants and nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and iron.
Grain To Water Ratio
For perfectly cooked freekeh, use 2 ½ cup water for 1 cup of whole grain or cracked freekeh. This will result in well cooked grains with a nice chewy texture.
How To Cook Freekeh
- Rinse the freekeh a few times and place it in a saucepan.
- Fill the saucepan with water. If cooking 1 cup grain, then add 2 ½ cup water.
- Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Whole grain will cook in 40 minutes whereas it would take about 25 minutes for the cracked to cook completely.
- Turn the heat off, let the it sit for 10 minutes and then fluff using a fork.
It's also a great choice if you want to add more substance to your soups or salads. I love adding it to my chicken shawarma salad, vegetable soup (instead of bulgur) or use it instead of couscous in my Mediterranean couscous salad. Although not traditional, but this grain would go well with the herbs and dressing in tabouli as well.
Storage and Reheating
- Uncooked freekeh: Store in an airtight container in a cool and dry pantry for up to 6 months. Whole grain can be stored for up to a year.
- Cooked Freekeh: Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Reheat in a saucepan or pan with 1 tablespoon water over medium heat. Stir a few times for even heating.
- Freezing instructions: Cooked freekeh can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since it's made from wheat grain, freekeh is not gluten-free.
Depending on how you're going to serve it, 1 cup of uncooked freekeh can serve 4 to 6 people.
Yes, you can use chicken or beef broth as well as vegetable stock to cook freekeh.
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How To Cook Freekeh
- 1 cup freekeh see notes
- 2 ½ cup water see notes
- Rinse freekeh a few times to make sure it's clean and any debris is removed.
- Place it in a saucepan and top with water. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
- Cover with a lid, turn the heat down to medium low and cook until the grains are chewy and tender. Cracked freekeh will take about 25 minutes and whole grain will take about 40 minutes.
- Once the grain is fully cooked, turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and serve.
- When looking for freekeh, you will see whole grain or cracked. Both will work in this recipe and the amount of water will be the same. However, cooking time will be different.
- You can use water, chicken or beef broth as well as vegetable stock to cook freekeh at home.
- Serve it with Mediterranean shrimp, balsamic chicken or Turkish ground beef stew.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.