Foodie Tuesday – Freekeh Pilaf


Welcome back to our guest foodie blogger, Michelle from The Source Bulk Foods Lane Cove. In her continuing quest to share some family friendly recipes, she goes all “ancient grain” on us, with her Freekeh Pilaf dish.

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When it comes to grains, one really stood out when we opened the store – Freekeh! That kooky name had the kids calling it Freak Out! as soon as it hit the barrel, so we had to give it a go when we were finally brave enough to think we could leave the store early and cook up a storm for some friends.

Freekeh has been around for centuries in the Middle East and is wheat harvested when it is still young. It is low in fat and high in protein and fibre and has low a GI. It is one of those versatile grains that adds texture to a soup or stew but can also be cooked like rice so is great as a rice replacement in meals or salads.

Given its Middle Eastern origins, the obvious place to start for a recipe to test run this freaky grain was the tall, dark and handsome Yotam Ottolenghi. As you may remember, I have a bit of a thing for Yotam with his calm, gentle style and Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food that is easy to prepare and packs a truckload of flavour.

As expected, Yotam quickly delivered with a Freekeh Pilaf recipe that could be prepared in 30min with much of the time spent simmering so I could get on to other sections of the menu.

The pilaf was quite a surprise as the recipe combined the freekeh with cinnamon and allspice so the dish had a subtle sweetness that balanced delightfully against the earthy freekeh.

We served the pilaf as a side to a hearty main, but for a complete meal you could boil a few earthy veggies like carrots and sweet potato, or steam a few light greens like broccolini and sweet peas or beans for a lighter version. Adding a bit of left over cooked meat lurking in the fridge would turn it into a complete meal!

freekeh pilaf

Below is Yotam’s recipe and I added lightly grilled cherry tomatoes to add a little colour and extra sweetness. The recipe only serves 4 as a side so I doubled it (as I always do – I love to serve loads of food and there is nothing like a few leftovers in the fridge for a quick mid-week dinner!)

Freekeh Pilaf

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
25g butter
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
150g freekeh
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
270ml vegetable stock
100g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
10g parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
10g mint, finely chopped
10g coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and roughly broken
salt and black pepper

Place the onions, butter and olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and sauté on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes, or until the onion is soft and brown.

Meanwhile, soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.

Add the freekeh and spices to the onions, followed by the stock and some salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a bare minimum and leave to simmer for 15 minutes (I have a simmer mat so used this to ensure the heat was very low). Remove the pan from the heat and leave it covered for 5 minutes. Finally, remove the lid and leave to pilaf to cool down a little, about another 5 minutes.

While you wait, mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice, garlic and some salt.

Stir the herbs into the warm (not hot) pilaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon onto a platter and top with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and finish with a trickle of olive oil.

Thank you, Michelle for the recipe. We can’t wait to see your family friendly recipes. Michelle works full time and has two teenagers, so she is all about quick, easy and nutritious recipes. She regularly brings in some of her home cooked treats for customers to nibble on while shopping at The Source Bulk Foods Lane Cove.

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