My family was in town last week and when we get together, we’re not, how you say, a very active people. My parents aren’t the hiking type, they’re not much for the beach, and they’d rather eat out than “trouble me” with having to cook for them. (My mom saves the cooking for herself when I go back to New Jersey.) Paired with last Friday’s surprising (and welcome) downpour, we ate out four days straight. The closest we got to eating at home was picking up takeout. And as much as I loved my meals at Puesto, Cafe 21, Amarin Thai, Hanna’s Gourmet, Grill House Cafe, Cafe 976, and Extraordinary Desserts, this week is all about recalibrating with healthy food.
Yesterday I made one of my new favorites, a freekeh “salad” with caramelized shallots, chickpeas, and yogurt, a recipe that I spotted in a recent Martha Stewart Living issue. What is freekeh, you ask? It’s an ancient grain derived from the Middle East that’s packed with protein and fiber and sold at speciality grocerers like Whole Foods, where I got mine, and online. It reminds me a bit of bulgar and barley, so if you can’t find freekeh, I think it’s safe to sub one of those two and adjust cooking times. (FYI, I used cracked freekeh, which worked just fine.) This recipe also incorporates pomegranate for a nice dose of seasonality and sweetness.
The great vegetarian food blog Cookie and Kate has a great note about cooking freekeh. I’ve tried both of her techniques—letting it cook long enough to absorb its moisture and yield a risotto-type consistency as well as cooking until tender and then letting the freekeh steam for 5 minutes to get a fluffier texture—and I prefer the latter method, which I used this time around.
Take a look: