Freekeh is roasted green wheat, which you can find in markets that stock Middle Eastern products. I recently bought a box, needed a recipe and found a terrific one in Carla Snyder's latest book, "One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers" (Chronicle Books: $24.95).
I didn't have all the ingredients, so I substituted cabbage for kohlrabi and a mild onion for a leek. I'm sure Snyder wouldn't mind, because she said it was OK to use other spices than the ras el hanout called for in the recipe.
How did the freekeh turn out? Fantastic. Snyder has a magic touch with seasonings. What could have been a dull vegetarian dish was alive with flavor, thanks to cumin, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice, raisins and almonds. It was sweet and savory, crunchy and tingly with lemon.
In place of ras el hanout, I added garam masala and an Asian spice blend. The photo above shows what I made.
At Melissa's, Snyder did not mention freekeh--after all, it's not an everyday ingredient--but demonstrated black bean tacos and blackberry scones (the scones are in another of her books, not the vegetarian one).
The Melissa's team prepared a superfood salad (above) with quinoa and kale, blueberries, mango and almonds. Golden brown latkes were made with rutabaga as well as potatoes. After roasting Brussels sprouts with butternut squash, apple, shallots and rosemary, the chefs mixed in walnuts, butter beans and dried cranberries.
It was all delicious, but I was more interested in ethnic recipes in the book such as Persian zucchini frittata, bibimbap and dal makhani with crispy leek. Next on my list to make is fried quinoa with kale and kimchi, which comes right before the freekeh recipe.
The freekeh recipe produces a large quantity, but it is so light that you can eat a lot of it. And you will want to, because it is so delicious.
MOROCCAN FREEKEH WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KOHLRABI
From "One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers" by Carla Snyder
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout or other Moroccan spice blend
1 cup cracked freekeh
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups diced butternut squash
2 cups diced kohlrabi
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon plus more juice as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the leek and cook until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Add the cumin, cinnamon, ras el hanout and freekeh, and cook, stirring, until the grain is lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Add the vegetable broth, butternut squash, kohlrabi and raisins and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until the freekeh and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Stir the almonds, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice into the pan and drizzle with more olive oil. Taste and season with salt, pepper and more lemon juice, if it needs it.
Spoon the freekeh into shallow bowls. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes 2 main dish servings.