Of all the freekeh dishes I’ve tried, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Freekeh Pilaf is my favourite. Simple, fast and generous. Play around with the herb and spice mix to suit the occasion. Add garlic and smoked paprika to create a Spanish-style freekeh served with lightly fried chorizo. Or use cumin and coriander topped with guacamole and sour cream to accompany hot Mexican beef strips. Although Ottolenghi uses allspice and cinnamon in the original recipe, I ultimately prefer the taste of cumin to allspice. Tailor it to your own taste.
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 cup cracked grain freekeh
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
500ml good-quality veg or chicken stock
100g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
10g parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
10g mint, finely chopped
10g coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and roughly broken (or toasted almond slivers as a cheaper alternative)
salt and black pepper
Garnish with angel hair chili (pictured above) or pomegranate pips.
Place the onions, butter and olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and sauté on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes. or until the onion is soft and brown.
Add the freekeh and spices to the onions, followed by the stock and some salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a minimum and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it covered for 5 minutes. Finally, remove the lid and leave the pilaf to cool down a little, about another 5 minutes.
While you wait, mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice, garlic and some salt.
Stir the herbs into the warm (not hot) pilaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon onto serving dishes and top each portion with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and finish with a trickle of olive oil.
Enjoy as a light meal or serve with sliced, spicy chicken, a roast or braai.
Tune into The Expresso Show, Monday 9 January, from 7.30 – 8.30am. I will be talking to Zola Nene about Greenwheat Freekeh and will make this delicious pilaf and more.