My son Micah returned from Israel this morning after spending the past six months in Tel Aviv. Of course I had to welcome him with a home-cooked meal. I made turkey meatloaf (a variation of Ina Garten’s recipe), a green salad with avocado and honey vinaigrette, schnitzle (to ease the transition from Israel to L.A.) and freekeh, a grain that I had purchased at the Williamsburg farmers’ market during my trip to NYC in February.
Freekeh is green wheat, mainly eaten in the Middle East. The wheat is harvested, sun-dried and then set on fire on top of a bed of straw. Higher in protein and fiber than many other grains, freekeh is in vogue. I had no idea.
I decided to prepare it in the same way that mujadara is prepared, with lentils and fried onions. The freekeh has an earthy, smoky quality and is similar in texture to bulgur, another hearty grain that I love.
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup freekeh
2 large brown onions
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and place lentils in a medium saucepan, add water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside.
Dice onions and saute in olive oil over low heat until they are deep golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Most of the flavor comes from the caramelized onions so be patient.
Bring 1 cup freekeh to a boil with 2 cups water. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remember this grain remains chewy.
Gently mix freekeh with lentils. Add caramelized onions and season to taste. Serves 4-6
Note: Last night I baked the freekeh/lentil dish in a 300 degree oven, covered, for about 45 minutes. Not only did it give the flavors a chance to blend but the texture was perfect! I would definitely add this step to the recipe.