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Freegin’ Awesome Freekeh

Freekah "Stuffing"

Freekeh "Stuffing"

I was in our local Middle Eastern supermarket and came across a box of freekeh. Freekeh is called a green wheat because it’s harvested in early stages, dried, roasted and smoked giving it a green color. Similar to rice, it’s cooked with chicken stock or water but is much healthier. The freekeh I bought says it contains 2.8g total fat, 3.5 mg sodium, 71.5 g carbs, 15.8g dietary fiber and 12.4g protein for each 1/2 cup serving.  It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, low GI and low in carbohydrates. Freekeh is commonly used as a side dish like couscous, rice or pasta but also used to make salads, soups and even breakfast cereal (instead of oatmeal).

We were craving the poached turkey that my husband had made Thanksgiving 2008 as well as all the other traditional sides like stuffing. I didn’t want to make a heavy, fattening stuffing but I wanted the same flavors and earthiness. So, I decided to make a freekeh stuffing! I incorporated all the fresh ingredients I like in stuffing — mushrooms, shallots, thyme with wonderfully creamy, roasted chestnuts and a touch of sweetness from dried cherries. The result was a delicious, healthy, savory dish that we enjoyed even more than traditional American stuffing!

Freekah Stuffing

1/4 – 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped
8 large cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
A couple dashes of Sumac
1.5 cups freekeh (carefully inspected, rinsed and drained)
2.5 cups chicken stock
12 chestnuts
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Inspect freekeh to make sure there aren’t any unwanted little pebbles. Soak in lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes. Drain in sieve and let dry.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use knife to cut a criss-cross gash in each chestnut. Bake for about 1/2 hour until gashes are opened. Cool, peel and chop.

3.  Heat butter in non-stick pot or large skillet. Add shallots and cook for 45 seconds to a minute.

4.  Add mushrooms and saute for a few minutes until mushrooms start to brown slightly.

5.  Add thyme, sumac, a few dashes of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Mix well and add freekeh.  Toss in chestnuts and cherries. I forgot to add in the cherries so I did this at the end…either way is probably fine.

6.  Add chicken stock to pot and bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and heat until stock is absorbed. Toss and enjoy!

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