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Freekeh Fruit Salad with Basil

Posted May 09 2012 11:04am

And so another food obsession begins: this time, it’s freekeh.

Freekeh (pronounced FREE-kah) is an ancient grain that is typically made with durum wheat that has been harvested while still green (not the slightly greenish hue of the grain in my photo below). What happens next in the harvesting process make the grassy flavor of the grain even more notable: it is fire-threshed, which lends the freekeh a subtle smokiness that is incredible.

Freekeh is a cinch to cook--prepare it much like rice or bulgur, pilaf-style, or cook and drain like pasta (my favorite method). Just like any grain, you can let your imagination run wild with the flavor possibilities: salads (warm or cold), pilafs, risotto (freekotto? J How fun is that?), in soups, as breakfast porridge, you name it. I paired it with fruit and basil, which amped up the grassy flavors of the grain. And because few things thrill my palate more than the combination of citrus with smoke, I added a quick lime vinaigrette to pull everything together.  

Now, where to find freekeh so that you can start playing, too: I found some in the bulk foods section of the grocery store (for those of you in East Texas: found it at FRESH , just $2.99/lb); I am guessing if it is in my neck of the woods, it will almost certainly be in yours right now, or very soon. In the meantime, you can also order from freekehlicious or amazon (freekeh) .

Freekeh out!

Some more freekeh recipes to inspire you:
Chicken with Freekeh (NYT Food section)
Burghul and Freekeh Pilaf (ledelicieux blog)
Freekeh Kofte (oh, this looks so amazing!) (

Rather than use chopped basil, I used the tiny leaves of the boxwood basil we planted a few weeks ago. I've never planted this before now, but spotted it at the nursery and decided to try it. Wonderful! A touch spicier than regular basil and no need to chop (leaves are tiny).

Freekah Fruit Salad with Basil

Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup freekah
1-1/2 cups        quartered hulled strawberries 
1 cup   fresh pineapple chunks           
1 cup   diced cantaloupe
1/3 cup            loosely packed basil mint leaves, chopped    
1 tsp    finely grated lime zest
2 tbsp  freshly squeezed lime juice    
1 tbsp  extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp  agave nectar or liquid honey
Pinch   fine sea salt

1.         In a medium saucepan of boiling water, add freekah; boil 30 to 35 minutes until freekah is tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse under cold water until cool.  Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the fruit and basil.
2.         Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the zest, lime juice, olive oil, agave nectar and salt. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat

Use cooked, cooled quinoa, bulgur or faro in place of the freekah.
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