Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cooking with Freekeh

Confession: Sometimes thinking about cooking local food is more fun than actually doing it.  That was my feeling every time I opened my fridge to see a lone bag of freekah, a new-to-me grain (stored in the fridge because whole grains can go rancid rather quickly, compared with highly refined flour).

I bought the freekah, produced by Cayuga Pure Organics and delivered by Garden Gate, because I was so excited about trying a new grain.  In my quest to explore the local foodshed, I've often wondered what to do about staples.  Sure, local veggies, dairy, and meat are relatively easy to find and cook, but what about staples like flour, rice, beans, and oil?

Cayuga Pure Organics provides a pretty straightforward answer, at least for grains and beans.  But I really like rice, and alas, there is no local rice to be had (and if I'm wrong, please correct me!).  So, perhaps I can improvise with a new grain like freekah?  But, improv takes brainpower, effort, and a willingness to screw up.  By no means do I intend to discourage anyone from trying new foods -- it's just that sometimes it takes more effort than I can muster, at least on a regular basis.

It's not that I completely ignored the freekeh -- I looked it up in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian,  and could not find it.  But the extensive list of grains convinced me that I would probably have to boil this grain forever and who wants to do that in the heat?  And what is freekeh, anyway?  According to Wikipedia, it's a green wheat often used in Arab cooking.

So after an unreasonable time in my fridge, I finally decided to tackle the grain.  Turns out that it can be cooked like brown rice (lucky guess, on my part).  And, thanks to my favorite new kitchen appliance -- a 10-cup rice cooker -- I could cook it without producing too much kitchen heat.

The result?  YUM!  Most of the recipes I invent end up just okay, but this one is definitely a keeper.

Freekeh Salad

Throw 2 cups of freekeh into a rice cooker with 4 cups of water.  After it's done, put half in a bowl and let cool.
Mix up an oil and vinegar salad dressing (about a 1/4C total?), with salt and pepper, and add it to the freekeh.
Add generous amounts of chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil, feta cheese (I used Sidehill Acres), walnuts, and fresh rosemary.

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  1. Grains are very dense and take a fraction of a fraction of the energy to transport compared to vegetables. So I'm going to keep eating rice...

  2. Good point. But really, you should try some freekeh! Tonight I altered the recipe to include raisins.

  3. I enjoyed a freekah mushroom risotto last night. It was chewy, but not unpleasantly so, and very tasty! I highly recommend it! : )

  4. Sounds great, Nancy! If you send me the recipe, I could post it for others to try.

  5. I made a freekeh tabuli salad.