Just like quinoa, freekeh is another ancient “supergrain” enjoying a lot of attention at the moment. Touted as a higher protein alternative to rice or pasta, freekeh tastes pretty good too – like slightly chewy, smoky brown rice. Freekeh is wheat – so is not gluten free – that is harvested prematurely and roasted to burn off the husk.
Freekeh is used widely in Middle-Eastern food so calls for some lentils, spices and the humble cauliflower, which works like a dream with spices (and cheese). You can use either ground or cumin seeds here: I scatter cumin powder over the roasting cauliflower florets and fry the freekeh with cumin seeds, but it doesn’t really matter which one you use – nor the amount. Let your taste buds guide you.
I like this pilaf accompanied with crispy onions and a splash of sweet, tangy pomegranate molasses mixed with some lime or lemon juice and a bit of salt.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1 large cauliflower
1 tbsp coconut/olive oil for roasting
1-2 tsps cumin seeds/powder
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil for the dressing
1 tbsp tahini
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 big cloves of garlic – crushed
Juice of 1 lime
Pomegranate dressing – optional but recommended
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Juice of 1 lime/lemon
Pinch of salt
2-3 large white onions – optional but recommended
Preheat the oven to 210 (fan)/230 (conventional)
- Break the cauliflower up into even sized florets and steam for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, warm up a roasting dish and add about a tablespoon of oil.
- Gently tip the steamed cauliflower into the oily pan. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of cumin and a good pinch of salt and gently mix so all the florets are covered. Roast for around 15-20 minutes until they are just beginning to char around the edges.
- Rinse the freekeh under the tap in a sieve, shake well, and then tip the grains into a large saucepan with the cumin seeds (or powder).
Keeping the heat low, and stirring constantly, let the freekeh and cumin dry fry for a couple of minutes. Add the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt.
- Pour in 500 ml of water. Bring the freekeh to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or however long suggested in the instructions on the freekeh packet. Keep an eye on the water level and add more if your grains start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Whilst the freekeh and cauliflower are cooking, whisk up the crushed garlic clove, the tahini, apple cider vinegar, juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Don’t worry if it curdles!
- If you are garnishing the pilaf with crispy onions, slice them in half and then into fine slivers. Heat up a good glug on oil in a saucepan or wok. Mix the pomegranate dressing ingredients together.
- When the freekeh is done, drain any surplus water away and return to the pan. Stir in the tahini dressing, pop the lid back on and let the flavours absorb for a couple of minutes whilst you chop up the coriander.
- Fry the finely sliced onions on a high heat until shrivelled and golden. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen roll.
- Finally, stir the freekeh in the cauliflower florets and coriander, garnish with the crispy onions, and drizzle with pomegranate dressing before serving.
I am sharing this with Healthy Vegan Fridays