Get ya freekeh on

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I freeking love freekeh! Freekeh (pronounced ‘free-ka’) is dried immature durum wheat. As it’s harvested early, while the grains are still soft and green, it contains more protein, vitamins and minerals than geriatric wheat. It’s also Low GI and packed with fibre. I tried it for the first time at my neighbour’s house a while ago – they whipped up Andrew McConnell’s beautiful cracked wheat and freekah salad with barberry dressing, which is on the menu at Cumulus Inc. I loved it; and have been on a freekeh kick ever since.
After a lot of tweaking and testing I’ve created my own freekeh concoction; Freekeh salad with mixed nuts and roasted tomatoes. I’ve brought it along to two BBQs recently – that’s us below, carting it off to a Día de Muertos party last weekend. Those roasted tomatoes go rather nicely with my dress don’t you think?
As this blog is all about creating two meals from one; I prepared a large quantity of the cooked freekeh, onion and garlic mixture and reserved half to use in a pretty damn delicious Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet (Swiss chard) and lemon soup; which we polished off for dinner with crusty bread. The leftover soup was frozen in lunch-sized portions to take to work. I usually make this soup with leftover cooked brown rice but freekeh was a fab substitute, and not as heavy as brown rice. This recipe is a definite keeper.
PS. If you’re scratching your head in puzzlement about the title of this post, here is the musical inspiration. It’s an excellent, slightly mental, track to cook along to.

Day of the Dead 2013Freekeh salad with roasted tomatoesFreekeh salad with mixed nuts[Recipe 1] Freekeh salad with mixed nuts and roasted tomatoes

Ingredients (serves 8 for 2 meals; ie salad for 8 + 8 serves of soup):
4 large Roma tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g (1 lb) cracked greenwheat freekeh, soaked in 2½ cups water for 15 minutes, drained (note: you’ll be reserving half the cooked freekeh/onion/garlic for the soup)
4 cups water, extra
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup (70g) slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup (70g) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
50g (1¾ oz) baby spinach leaves
½ – 1 cup each roughly chopped mint and parsley
Lemon pomegranate dressing:
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, warmed (replace with honey if unavailable)

Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF).
Place halved tomatoes, cut side up, onto a tray lined with baking paper. Brush each with olive oil, and roast for 1 hour. Carefully turn each tomato over and roast for a further 20–25 minutes to allow the juices to drain off. Cut each in half and set aside to drain on kitchen paper until required.
Heat extra oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, until just fragrant (onion needn’t be completely soft).
Add prepared cracked freekeh and mix well. Add water. Bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Spread out on a tray (or 2 large plates) to dry for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Combine lemon juice, zest, olive oil and pomegranate molasses in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Set aside.

♦ Reserve half of the cooked freekeh and onion mixture (4 heaped cups) for the Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet and lemon soup.
Place remaining cooked freekeh and onion mixture in a large bowl. Add prepared dressing and mix well. Add salt, pepper, nuts, spinach and chopped herbs and toss lightly to combine. Arrange roasted tomatoes on top and serve.

  • This recipe uses cracked grain freekeh. If you’re using whole-grain freekeh, simmering time should be increased according to the packet. 
  • Freekeh and pomegranate molasses are available from specialty and health food stores (including my favourite locals, The Essential Ingredient and Aunt Maggies). You can also check this page for Australian and International stockists of freekeh; or buy it online at the Greenwheat Freekeh Australian online shop or Freekehlicious USA. Freekeh is also widely stocked at Middle Eastern Grocers.
  • This salad (and the planned-overs) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Chicken soup with freekeh and lemon

[Recipe 2] Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet and lemon soup

Ingredients (serves 8):
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 chicken legs, skin on
2 large carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves

♦ 4 heaped cups reserved cooked freekeh and onion mixture
8 cups chicken stock, home-made or store-bought (plus extra if required*)
1 bunch silverbeet (Swiss chard), 8–10 stalks, green part only, finely shredded
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Lemon wedges to serve

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry chicken legs over a medium heat, turning, for 10 minutes, until browned.
Add carrot, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, reserved cooked freekeh and onion mixture and stock. Mix well.
*Note: we like our soup thick. Feel free to add more stock as required.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer gently, covered, for 40 minutes.
Remove and discard bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Add silverbeet and simmer, covered, for a further 20 minutes.
Using tongs, place chicken legs on a board. With two forks shred the meat from the bones. Discard bones and skin. Return shredded meat to the soup.
Add lemon juice and season to taste (if using store-bought stock, the soup may be salty enough).
Serve, with lemon wedges for squeezing.

  • Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet and lemon soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Fussy kid tip: If lemon and silverbeet are likely to give your child the heebie-jeebies, stir a couple of tablespoons of cooked corn kernels, or even creamed corn, into their soup portion. My 6-year old laps it up with either of these additions.

63 thoughts on “Get ya freekeh on

  1. Pingback: Freekeh Salad with Mixed Nuts & Tomato - Greenwheat Freekeh

  2. Hi Sas, I’ve been eyeing off your Freekah salad for some time now thinking it looks so good and I finally got around to making it this weekend. Wow! So yummy! Tastes even better than it looks! I love all the combinations – the nuts add that extra crunchy bite, spinach was great and the tomatoes were the crown on the salad! Woohoo to your Freekah salad Sas!
    Love Melsy

  3. I have wanted to buy some freekeh for so long!! It’s delicious, plus I feel just a little bit righteous whilst eating it as it’s supposedly good for me 🙂 Love the look of that gorgeously glossy salad in particular. Yum yum yum. P.S you guys did an awesome job with the face painting. Az and I were roped in to facepaint at a community fair a week ago and I thought, “ah, it’ll be fine! As I paint regularly. On a flat, non-moist, non-moving surface. Ah, I was so silly. By the end of the afternoon I felt awesome at it but there were a few dozen slightly non-symmetrical batmans, fairies and tigers running around from my prior efforts!! 😦 xx

    • Ha! I can relate. I put my hands up for crazy-nail painting at a ‘kiddy day spa’ at a school fete a while ago – exhausting! And lots of kids running around with really bad manicures. Applying paint or polish to a wriggling surface is quite a challenge isn’t it.

    • Thanks Irina. Actually, sun-dried tomatoes would be a great substitute when tomatoes aren’t in season. Excellent idea! Yes, always a bonus when food has a great name too – I made bi bim bap recently. Try saying that quickly over and over again!

  4. Pingback: More Freekeh Salad and Soup Recipes | | Greenwheat Freekeh

  5. Everything looks so delicious! I have never tried freekeh and I would definitely be interested…must put on my list of things to look for. I think the kids would probably enjoy it as well (using some of your suggestions for alterations 🙂 )

    • Thanks! My boys love the freekeh and chicken soup. Freekeh is actually a good replacement for couscous or quinoa; and it’s fab in a pilaf too. I’ve been having fun experimenting with it over the past couple of months.

  6. i spot organic germinating whey once in an imported healthy gourmet store, the price is pretty expensive, about 25 USD for a single pound….
    i guess i’m regret not brought it home since i never seen any of it ever again…
    btw how does it taste like???

    • Dedy I have never in my life heard of organic germinating whey, and I’m intrigued! I have no idea what one would do with it (although with your creativity I’m sure you’d whip up something amazing)!
      Freekeh on the other hand, tastes slightly nutty and not dissimilar to barley.

    • Thanks so much. The dressing is pretty zingy and fabulous, even if I do say so myself! It’s a good one for doubling up and storing in the fridge for other uses – it goes beautifully with fetta/tomato/cucumber salad too.

  7. Sass, I am completely with you — freeking love freekah too. So much so that I had to grab a packet when I was at the Prahran Market with Mum yesterday (it’s hard to find in Richmond). Asked by her to explain why I love it so much, all I could say is the best grain ever! The chicken soup looks amazing. Maybe I’ll make it for my chicken-loving Ma. Love your make up and costume too. 🙂

  8. Don’t think I have ever seen such a gorgeous looking salad. Time to pick up some freekeh, I have been wanting to try it for quite some time. It took seeing your beautiful salad to really give me a nudge in the right direction. Awesome costumes too! 🙂

    • My boys LOVE the freekeh soup, but aren’t so keen on the salad. The salad is definitely an adult-friendly one, and great for bring-a-plate occasions and work lunches. The boys aren’t keen on grainy salads as a rule, but the planned-over recipes always get a thumbs up. These sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes are a classic example. They won’t touch the quinoa salad, but LOVE the salmon cakes!

  9. Never heard of freekeh, learned something new, thanks. Not sure if it is available where I live but should look when I go food shopping. Both dishes look delicious, it is cold and windy today, your soup would hit the right spot.

    • Thanks Norma. You should be able to get freekeh in larger health stores, and it’s available online in the USA at freekehlicious. It’s cold, windy and bucketing with rain here too. Planning on some baking, and maybe a bit of dough-rolling with my boys today.

  10. You and your fam look SO COOL! Looks like it would have been an ace party.

    I love a soup that’s heavy on the lemon, especially at this time of year. Two friends gave birth in the last week, so I’m on food duty and this freekeh combo could be the perfect thing to take, one to each!

    Now I have Missy Elliot stuck in my head (which isn’t a bad thing).

    • Thanks Amelia. It was indeed an ace party (with some pretty amazing costumes, I must say)! I’m with you and zingy soups – love ’em.
      This would be a great, nourishing salad to bring to new parents – I may need to send some up to Kyneton in January 😉
      PS. I have a closet love for 90s lady rappers, and Missy is the Queen!

  11. That salad has got to be one of the most gorgeous I’ve ever laid eyes on, Sas! So beautiful. The soup looks almost equally stunning and sounds delicious. And I’ve never in all my live long days heard of freekeh, so thank you for the education. Your costumes are fab! Someone is a dab hand with the face make-up. 🙂

    • Aw thanks so much for the lovely compliment df! I’m sorry it’s not gluten-free for you, although I’m sure the combination would go equally well with quinoa. I may just give that a try and report back. Oh, and it’s me that was the dab hand with my own makeup – I wasn’t brave enough to entrust that task to any of the other family members… I must say the husband did do an excellent job with our son though!

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