Freekeh is green wheat that is sun dried and toasted to burn off chaff, then cracked into small edible pieces. The result is smoky and slightly chewy. It gives salads some heft and a depth of flavour. You’ll find it at Middle Eastern food suppliers but if if not available use bulghur – or even couscous or quinoa.
To cook 175g (1 cup) freekeh, put it in a sieve and rinse under running water. Transfer to a small saucepan with 2 1/2 cups cold water, bring up to a bubble and cook gently for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse well, then drain for a further 5 minutes. If freekeh seems particularly wet, bundle it up in a clean cloth and press gently to extract water. A delicious way to serve it is tossed with lemon oil, or extra virgin olive oil and finely grated lemon zest, crushed garlic, chopped basil or thyme and crushed coriander seeds. Prepare this, then cut the tops off large tomatoes and remove seeds and pulp. Season inside tomatoes with salt, turn them upside down to drain for 5 minutes, the fill with prepared freekeh. Put caps on, set them in a shallow oven dish, sprinkle with grated parmesan and panko crumbs and bake in a hot oven for about 30 minutes, until crusty. Yum!
Photography by Julie Biuso