gettin’ your freekeh on

If I ran analysis and crunched numbers, I could tell you exactly how many food for fun recipes are “healthy” and how many not so much. But since running analysis and crunching numbers sounds a bit dry, I’ll just say that the “better for the soul than your waistline” recipes found here far outnumber the “good for you” recipes.

Yet. If this blog more accurately reflected how I cook, it would offer a better balance. While I love my sweets (and my cocktails), the meals I make tend to showcase whole grains, veggies, lean proteins, etc. That said, the sweet stuff garners more attention (and generally seems more fun), so I don’t often include main dishes here. But today I will.

Epicurious.com‘s recipes grace my email box daily and today’s caught my attention. I’d just been thinking supper possibilities as I opened the email and Stir-Fried Buckwheat sounded good. With a bag of buckwheat groats already in my freezer (or so I thought), this recipe would make a healthy vegetarian entrΓ©e.

What intrigued me most was how the grains were cooked. First, they were mixed with an egg, then toasted for a brief time in a large saucepan. Vegetable broth was added and the grain simmered 15 or so minutes until the broth was absorbed. The cooked grain was then spread out on a baking sheet, each kernel separated as much as possible for cooling. When added to the stir-fried and seasoned veggies, the grains mostly remain separate.

cooling the kernels

cooling the kernels

A quick search of the freezer failed to uncover buckwheat groats, but I found freekah and gave that a go instead. (Do you know freekeh? I first discovered it a year or so ago and figured it as the next quinoa. Billed as cracked green wheat, it’s chewy, slightly sweet, and adds variety to a whole grain repertoire. As for being the next big thing in the grain world, it’s now sold at Costco–a sure sign of being mainstreamed.)

freekah: a young, green cracked wheat

freekah: a young, green cracked wheat

Another change was subbing curry paste for the chile paste as that’s what I had on hand (paste is paste, right?). As well, I didn’t have any green beans, so added color with a handful of chopped fresh mint.

Stir-Fried Freekah

Stir-Fried Freekeh

Nutritionally, it makes a better side than main as it’s all carbs, but a sprinkle of peanuts upped the protein content. Though my girls weren’t impressed, I was. Reminiscent of fried rice, it also had its own personality: warm and slightly salty and savory and herby. I’ll definitely be making it again.

up close and personal

up close and personal

So while food for fun will continue highlighting ice cream, cookies, cakes, bread, adult beverages, and the like, it’ll also serve up the occasional healthy dish. The way I see it, not-so-good-for-you food can be enjoyed (relatively) guilt-free when you’ve filled up on the good stuff first.

47 thoughts on “gettin’ your freekeh on

  1. Liz, that looks delicious, and who doesn’t have buckwheat groats in their freezer, am I right? Seriously, I have never heard the words groats or freekah until I read this. Thanks for always educating and entertaining me. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Andi. Educational and entertaining–like it πŸ™‚ haha, no groats in the freezer, you say? FYI: oat groats make fantastic slow-cooker overnight oatmeal! They’re less processed from the get-go, so don’t go all mushy.

    • You, too, Celeste? Something about the sweets appeals for sure. But veggies are pretty, too. Though they don’t exactly cause cravings πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for the kind words!

    • Thank you, Tracy. Yep, all about making do with what you have. You could enjoy this if you used a non-wheat grain. Millet? Quinoa? Things going ok with menu planning?

      • I was wondering about the Quinoa, since I have it in the cupboard. I’ve been expanding my vegetarian repertoire. Tried ratatouille recently. Yum.

        One of my friends sent me a Kohlrabi rice recipe. She knows I love lamb. We’ve fallen in love with it. The only ingredient we are missing is the ground dried lime.

        We live in such a small town no one in the area carries it. I found a market in Tacoma that carries the whole dried limes. I’m picking some up this weekend. Looks like I’ll be pulling out the pestle and mortar. I’m dying to find out how it alters the flavor.

        Here’s the recipe if you’re interested: http://www.food.com/recipe-finder/all/kohlrabi-rice

  2. I wasn’t expecting your latest post to be about a healthy dish, but I am enjoying it! I keep telling myself to balance out my blog posts with more healthy dishes (or at least something savory), but I still end up writing mostly about desserts!
    This dish looks so vibrant and delicious, and what an interesting way to prepare the grains! I am not familiar with freekah, but it sounds like a nice, healthy staple to have around in the kitchen. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it the next time I’m at Costco!

    • keeping it fresh, Ada. lol. Glad if you enjoyed it here, even without the sweets. Desserts totally get the glory in my mind, but need healthy stuff, too. And veggies really can be exciting–so pretty!

      Yes, look for freekah, then tell me what you make with it πŸ˜‰

  3. Sounds really good Liz – reminds me a little of a dish I make called kasha varnishkes (which is a Jewish thing) – it’s buckwheat and farfalle pasta. The buckwheat is toasted in a pan with broth and and egg and spices until the liquid is absorbed. Then it’s tossed with the pasta. IT’s one of my husband’s favorites. I’m going to try this one though – because he has a thing about vegetables and whenever I can get him to like something a skosh nutricious I consider it a small victory..

    • Figured this cooking method had history and wasn’t anything new. But hadn’t seen it before. Your dish sounds tasty–pasta and a whole grain. Carbs πŸ™‚ Lots of veggies to pick from, so can add what he’ll eat.

      Glad to have you over here, Mimi. Enjoyed your post today very much.

  4. Oh this looks awesome! Though my blog is light on healthy fare and heavy on foie gras and butter, I too tend to cook “good for you” stuff most of the time. While I haven’t tried freekah before, I’ve seen it in the bulk bins at the natural food stores. I’ll have to buy some soon to experiment with. The method for cooking this looks super interesting too. Thanks for sharing such a fun meal!

    • Yes, J, get thee some freekah πŸ™‚ I’d love to see what you do with it! Funny how the “good-for-you” foods don’t get the attention that the naughty stuff does.

  5. looks like a delicious and happy food accident/improv that turned out well. a case of mistaken identity that paid off. that’s the joy of cooking. i’ve never heard of freekah, though it sounds intriguing, and thanks for evening out my unhealthy eating moments. )

    • delicious and happy–I like that, Beth! Yep, joy of cooking. Rewarding to see something work out. (because it doesn’t always)

      You can introduce your Ks to freekah πŸ™‚ Thanks oodles for coming over πŸ™‚

  6. I love the title of this! I tried to find freekah in Whole Foods store before and they didn’t sell it. This was a while back tho. I may have to ask again to see if they started selling it now.

    • “Better for the soul than your waistline” I love that phrase so much! Indeed the recipe ratio on my blog is much the same as yours! I keep hearing about freekah but have yet to try it, I want to but haven’t come across it yet. Your freekah dish looks delicious!

      • Thanks, Jayne. Thinking freekah will be mainstream eventually. I’ve seen you pull some awesome veggie dishes out of your hat! Kale and sweet potato soup? Cauliflower Rice? Yum, all!

  7. It looks so colourful! And that plate is perfect for this dish. I have never heard of freekah, but it sounds good! Here, I will give you some chicken, and you can let me try a bite or two of this, right?

    • Thanks for noticing the plate. Have a bit of a “prop” problem in that I can’t stop buying dishes. All in the name of the blog πŸ™‚

      Thinking this would be a fantastic side with your chicken. Does your photo monkey merge images? πŸ˜‰

      Appreciate your visit, Jenny!

  8. Really nice, a great alternative to fried rice. I know freekah but have never tried it. I should give it a try. Really interesting method of preparation, I tend towards less than healthful recipes but from time to time will post something healthful, it’s a nice break from all the butter, sugar etc….

  9. I give this a big thumbs up. I am impressed with all your substitutes. Never bought freekah before but now I think I will. Especially hearing your description of it being “chewy, slightly sweet”. Delicious dish!

    • yes, the funny name! I was going to mention in my fb message that you’d like a word (not too far of from crackalackin’, is it?) used, but didn’t get there.

      This tastes better than a Clif bar, honest. Thanks for letting me drag you over.

  10. This is just an attractive dish, Liz, and I doubt you could have found a better platter to use. Together, they make a great presentation. I’ve never heard of freekah but, as you say, if it’s available at Costco, it’s already about as mainstream as it can get. I need to get to Costco. Thanks, Liz.

    • Thanks, John! I liked how it turned out, too, but will offer that the secret to its vibrancy might lie at least in part to my photo editor app πŸ˜‰

      I’d eat this as a side to your octopus dish anyday! Thank YOU for coming by.

  11. Liz !!! I’m here I’m here I’m here !!! Hi. πŸ™‚ So sorry I missed the party yesterday, I had an early morning appointment that did not go as planned, and it just kind of threw everything out of whack for the whole day (will tell you all about it on fb shortly).

    But now I’m back here online and with YOU, so clearly the universe has righted itself. This looks delicious. Echoing your earlier chat with Fannie and thinking I will be trying this with quinoa very, very soon. I love the idea of toasting the grains! I’ve never done that, and I’m sure it adds all sorts of flavour. πŸ™‚

    • Hey, amb! You’re welcome anytime:-) The universe was indeed looking catty-wampus (sp?) when I realized last night that you hadn’t been over. Was a bit worried as you have a reputation as a regular around here. Like it or no, your absences will be missed!

      Quinoa, etc should all work wonderfully. What intrigued me especially was coating the grains with egg before toasting. I’ve ove cooked grains before, turning them to mush, and this seemed to help prevent that. And the flavors were Wow, so be sure to add fresh herbs at the end.

      Totally healthy meal, so a cookie (or two or three) afterward would be totally ok πŸ˜€

  12. I’ve never heard of freekah, but this sounds really intriguing. I’m curious – did you prepare it the same way they suggested preparing the buckwheat groats?

    • Yes, I did everything the same, save switching out a few ingredients. Was impressed with how distinct the kernels were in the final dish. No glomming!

      Thanks for coming by, HD πŸ™‚

    • Freekah was new to me, too, then all of a sudden it shows up in Costco. Can’t be too long before the mainstreams stores carry it. You’ll have to get on board, Trace πŸ˜‰ For real, though, I think you would like it lots. Slightly sweet–not bitter at all, which can be a problem with whole grains. Glad we share the same food and diet philosophy. Though somehow that doesn’t surprise me! So glad you came by.

    • Thanks, CCU πŸ™‚ Not sure how the freekah would tie in to your marvelous baking projects, but if you eat the freekah at mealtime, you can probably double up on dessert πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your kind words.

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