I know, I know. St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be about corned beef and Irish soda bread but today I’m writing about a different kind of green — green wheat, better known as freekeh. It’s a Middle Eastern ancient grain that’s harvested green, then sun-dried and roasted giving it a distinctive nutty flavor, very worthy of trying, if you can find it. Ever since Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks have become so popular (Plenty and Jerusalem) I’ve been looking for freekeh and finally found a small package on the bottom shelf at Whole Foods. If it’s rise in popularity is anything like quinoa, it should become more readily available, especially because it’s loaded with fiber and nutrients and is excellent for those on a low glycemic diet.
You can use just about any whole grain recipe with freekeh. I was looking for an excuse to chop up all the fresh chives and sorrel that have been popping up in my garden, thanks to last week’s glorious sunshine, so I went for a grain salad.
I added a shredded chicken breast and a creamy lemony dressing and came up with the perfect mid-week, mid-season dinner, inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit – originally from this restaurant in Portland.
Freekeh Salad with Chicken and Fresh Herbs
Salad Ingredients: 1 cup freekeh/ 1 large chicken breast, poached or roasted and shredded/ Lots of chopped fresh herbs – I used chives, sorrel and parsley/ Salt & pepper.
Directions: Bring about 3 cups salted water to boil in medium saucepan/ Add freekeh, turn down to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until al dente/ Drain and spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
Once cool, combine with chicken and herbs in large bowl/ Toss with dressing and garnish with more fresh chives, season with salt & pepper.
Dressing Ingredients: 1 small garlic clove, minced/ 2 T finely grated parmesan cheese/ 2 T fresh lemon juice/ 1/2 cup heavy cream/ 4 T olive oil/ Salt & pepper.
Dressing Directions: Whisk garlic, parmesan and lemon juice together in a small bowl/ Gradually whisk in olive oil, then cream/ Season with salt & pepper.
Don’t freekeh out! I’ll still be cooking a corned beef on Monday March 17, but this is for those of you interested in a different shade of green.