It is high time to start stocking your kitchen with roasted green wheat or freekeh; it is available at middle-eastern stores, usually in a box, with instructions and recipes on the back. Nutritionally, it packs so much that it is crazy that not more people know about it. This will happen when a Mark Bittman or Martha Stewart talks about it!
Some features of freekeh:
- Freekeh is wheat harvested at an early stage when the leaves start to turn yellow; it is left to dry in the sun, then roasted for a few minutes over an open fire.
- Freekeh is greenish-colored and rice-shaped. Its flavor is earthy and smoky.
- It is cooked in boiling water or stock at a ratio of 1 part freekeh to 2 parts water, for about 20 minutes.
- Freekeh hasway moreprotein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc than mature wheat or brown rice.
- It is available ground or whole-grain.
- The best freekeh in Lebanon comes from the South.
There is a story about the origin of freekeh. It was discovered around 2300B.C. The attackers of a mediterranean village set its green wheat fields on fire before retreating and to salvage their wheat the villagers rubbed it and discovered that the fire had ripened the wheat and retained its green color; hence the discovery of freekeh.
- 1 cup of freekeh
- 8 lamb chops
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil, a few tablespoons
- 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 pound of tomatoes or 1 large can of Italian San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc or dried such as ground cumin, allspice, etc
- salt, to taste
- 2 to 3 cups of water for the freekeh
- 1 Tablespoon of veal stock concentrate (optional)
PLANNING THE MEAL:
- Squeeze the juice of a lemon on the chops, sprinkle some spices or fresh herbs if you have them , add a few tablespoons of olive oil. The chops can marinate in this dressing for a day, covered in the fridge.
- About 30 minutes before dinner time, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet; dry the chops with a paper towel and pan-fry them for a few minutes on both sides. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
NOTE: If you bought the green wheat in bulk, make sure you rinse it and clean it well.
- Place the green wheat in the same skillet and stir it in order to coat all the grains with the lamb fat and the olive oil.
- Add water or broth (adding the veal stock concentrate) to the green wheat, stir a bit and cover the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is gone and the wheat is cooked, about 30 minutes.
- Serve with the lamb chops accompanied by a dollop of tomato sauce or fresh tomato salsa.
Making the tomato sauce:
- 1 pound of fresh tomatoes or a large can of San Marzano tomatoes or Pomi
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- salt, white pepper to taste
- Heat a skillet add the butter let it melt and add the chopped onion.
- Add the tomatoes or the can of tomatoes and seasonings.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Puree in the blender.
Source: From ‘Akkar to ‘ Amel Lebanon Slow Food Trail by Rami Zurayk.
Also, thank you to Dana, from Plano, Texas; Dana, a Lebanese Southerner, knows her freekeh and she gave me the idea of serving it with tomato sauce on the side.
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