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Tired of Rice and Quinoa? Make the Delicious Ancient Grain, Freekeh.

Tomato freekeh recipe
As creamy as risotto, but tastier and healthier! Serve as a side (grilled shrimp in the pic) or as a vegetarian main.

Freekeh, also known as cracked wheat, is an ancient super grain with a delicious and unique smoky flavor. Derived from the Levantine countries, freekeh (from the Arabic word, to rub) is basically green (young harvested berries) durum wheat that is roasted and then rubbed from its chaff, resulting in a chewy, nutty, and distinctly smoky tasting grain.

High in fiber and protein, freekeh is a nutrition powerhouse that is a great alternative to white rice or pasta. Traditionally, freekeh is prepared on special occasions and family gatherings. It’s nearly always accompanied by roasted chicken, a tomato based sauce, and a generous amount of, fried almonds and pine nuts.

How do you make freekeh? At its most basic (and just like making rice) you boil some water add some salt and you cook the freekeh….except that Middle Eastern food is rarely basic! In my freekeh recipe, tomatoes make a tasty slightly sweet and creamy backdrop for the smoky grain. It’s a perfect side and a healthier substitute for rice. Instead of the traditional roasted chicken, I marinated and grilled some shrimp, but really, even some sautéed, and nicely seasoned vegetables (think yummy Italian caponata) or my parmesan lemon chicken tenders, would work just as well. Or, eat as is for a vegetarian/vegan main dish. Enjoy.

Freekeh with Tomatoes

Prep Level: Easy

Serves: 4


  • 1 cup freekeh (cracked wheat) in a colander rinsed under cold water twice and strained

  • 1 big onion, finely diced

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 big tomato, finely diced

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon all spice

  • ¼ teaspoon coriander

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • 1 ¼ cup chicken (or vegetable) broth, boiling.

How To:

In a small pot, heat the broth till it begins to boil. Set aside while you prepare the freekeh. In a medium sized, and heavy based pot with a lid, on medium heat, place the olive oil, onions and all the spices and seasoning. Sautee, and stir the onions, for a few minutes. add the tomatoes and ketchup. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add the freekeh and mix everything well so that the grains are coated with the tomato and onion spice mix. Add the heated broth to the freekeh and let it come to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once the broth begins to boil. Lower the heat to a minimum (transfer it on the smallest eye on the stove top) and cover the pot with the its lid. Cook on very low heat for 30-40 minutes. The freekeh will be chewy, tomatoey and delicious!

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