Freekeh and bulgur bowl

By Suzanne Husseini
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Freekeh is an ancient wheat grain that is picked while still green and set on fire. Then it is 'rubbed' or 'farek' the Arabic meaning and where it gets its name freekeh. Allowing the chaff to burn allows the smoky taste to reach the kernel. It's both nutty and smoky and very special.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions or shallots finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarse bulgur
  • 1/2 cup whole freekeh, washed thoroughly and soaked in water, drained
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt

Dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin)

Garnish:

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh pomegranates
  • Toasted almonds, or pine nuts
  • Labneh (thick yoghurt)
  • Crispy leek

Directions

  1. You will cook the freekeh and the bulgur each the same way and individually.
  2. In a small saucepan on medium heat sauté half the chopped onions, half the garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil until translucent and soft, five minutes.
  3. Add the bulgur and stir to coat. Add one cup water. Bring to boil, lower heat, then cover and simmer till done and tender - approximately ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in while hot one tablespoon butter, set aside.
  4. Repeat the same process with the freekeh. You could cook the two grains simultaneously in two separate saucepans.
  5. If you like to eat this grain salad cold then place both the cooked freekeh and bulgur on trays to thoroughly cool.
  6. To roast the cauliflower and butternut squash do them separately as they cook at a different rate.
  7. Heat the oven to 425F. Place the cauliflower florets on a shallow baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Drizzle two tablespoons olive oil, season with salt. Spread out evenly and roast till tender and caramelized slightly - approximately 15 minutes.
  8. Repeat the same process with the butternut squash.
  9. This step can be made ahead to save time.
  10. To make the crispy leeks: cut off the green part of one leek and discard. Slice long thin strips of the white part of the leek. Deep fry in oil till crispy and golden. Remove and place on absorbent paper towel.
  11. To make the dressing: in a small bowl combine lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, honey, salt, olive oil. Whisk together and taste to alter seasoning.
  12. Mix the cooked freekeh and the bulgur to combine.
  13. To plate take a scoop of the grains and place in a bowl or platter. Drizzle some dressing all over. Arrange some roasted cauliflower, squash, mint leaves, dollops of labneh, toasted almonds, fresh pomegranate seeds, and some crispy leeks.
  14. Delicious hot or cold on its own or as a side dish with anything you love.

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