Feb 052012

Freekeh2 1 of 1 600x400 Get Your Freekeh On

The first Sunday of the month marks the time to write another Recipe Swap post. Ever since I became a member of the group almost a year ago, I have been looking forward to these challenges. Each old-fashioned recipe that Christianna from Burwell General Store chooses for us from retro cookbooks she finds at flea markets throws me into a whirlwind of thinking, pondering, imagining, and dissecting. We are not supposed to replicate the recipe as written, but rather to change it, make it our own, adapt it so it reflects our experiences, preferences, tastes, and personalities. Once the idea takes hold and solidifies, there are hundreds of what ifs and how abouts that run through my head as I surrender to my perfectionism and start fretting about the end result.

So far, I’ve managed to pull off every single challenge without any snags and I feel confident. Once I hit Publish, I pat myself on the shoulder and embark on the most enjoyable part of the process: exploring my friends’ blogs and discovering all the variations on the given recipe prompt. There are not two that are alike, and month after month I am amazed at the versatility and creativity of our group.

This month, this Wild Rice Dressing recipe came from another junk-store find, Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Placeswhich features the best dishes of restaurants found all over the country. This one originated in Pine Tavern in Bend, Oregon. It looked pretty straight-forward, even though I veered off the familiar dressing recipe only a few years ago, nudged by my curiosity and somewhat nomadic culinary tendencies. For years, I made the southern corn bread dressing that Husband brought with him when he migrated north from rural Georgia (I revel in any opportunity that will allow me to mention his place of origin, especially if I can make it juicier and mention that the mountains and river gorge near his great grandmother’s Tallulah Falls home was where they filmed “Deliverance”).

recipeswap wildrice Get Your Freekeh On

Once I found out that he would not make any attempts at secession, having his traditional family tastes satisfied throughout the years, I spread my wings and experimented with various ingredients and techniques. But this approach misfired this last Thanksgiving when my middle daughter asked me to make the same dressing as I made the previous year. Predictably, she remembered only that it tasted great, without mentioning what it consisted of. I might have stumbled on the future family tradition, but it slipped through my fingers as I did not remember to write it down, even though I have a folder on my desktop devoted solely to grading and commenting on the recipes I tried.

The dressing that accompanied our juicy and plump chicken for Thanksgiving was made with wild rice and we enjoyed it. This time I duly recorded it and alotted it the several stars that it deserved. But I am always searching for new and different,  and this Recipe Swap challenge gave me another opportunity to experiment.

Freekeh 1 of 1 600x400 Get Your Freekeh On

I came home from last month’s visit to Melissa’s Produce in Vernon, California, with a big burlap bag filled with fruits, vegetables, and grains, some familiar, some wrapped in several veils of culinary mystery. One of the baggies contained freekeh (pronounced free-kuh), an ancient grain that left me completely befuddled. It is actually roasted wheat that is harvested when still young and green, and therefore has a lot more vitamins and minerals than regular wheat. Its fiber content also gives it the status of food that’s really, really good for you, and I was more than happy to include it in my legume and grain drawer.

When I decided to pull out the baggie with freekeh and make it the star of my recipe, the rest just fell into place. I knew that earthy and robust mushrooms would pair well with chewy grains, and caramelized onions would bring just enough sweet notes and soft texture to balance the dish. A whisper of wine, a slight crunch of celery, and a nice amount of spices would round out the finish. The only thing that surprised me a bit is that baking it did not seem to change the consistency a whole lot. Next time I will skip that step and serve it as a hearty side dish.

This was a perfect winter fare, served with moist roasted chicken and a garlicky beet salad. Freekeh was easy to cook and reminded me of barley in its texture.  I am happy to have found another ingredient that will at least occasionally make an appearance at our dining table.

Freekeh1 1 of 1 600x400 Get Your Freekeh On



  • 1 cup uncooked freekeh
  • 2 ½ cups cold water
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil, divided
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 8 oz cremini or button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning or a mix of sage and thyme (if fresh, double the amount)
  • ½ white wine, dry sherry, or dry vermouth
  • a big handful of fresh parsley, chopped


Place freekeh and water into a heavy pot and heat on high temperature. When it boils, turn to low, cover, and simmer for 50-60 minutes, until there is no more liquid and the grains are soft. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium-low heat and add onions. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until soft and golden brown. Combine with freekeh.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Heat the remaining oil on medium heat and sauté mushrooms and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, 6-8 minutes. Add wine and cook until it evaporates. Mix into freekeh and onions along with parsley. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Pour the dressing into a square or round baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

You can find my fellow swappers’ recipes just below. And if for some reason the links don’t show, click on the frog.

27 Responses to “Get Your Freekeh On”

  1. Get your freekah on? This looks great Lana…I’m not participating this month; just had too many things run together and had to ‘just say no.’ But doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy others…and this sounds delish. Well done my friend!

  2. I’ve never cooked with freekeh but have wanted to try it. Thanks for this recipe; it’s just my kind of dish and will propel me to the gourmet market to find some of this ancient grain.

  3. Oh, I’ve never cooked with Freekeh before! This looks fabulous, and it’s such a great spin on the original recipe. I also agree with Christianna, ythe title of this post is the BEST.

  4. Jako mi se dopada ideja ovakve igre. Fenomenalno!
    Nisam nikada cula za tu zitaricu, a i ne verujem da se kod nas moze kupiti. Nazalost… Cak i one, manje upotrebljavane zitarice, kojih ima kod nas kostaju mnogo vise nego sto bi trebalo…

  5. How wonderful! It looks really tasty and comforting! Now I’ll have to go buy some of that freekeh!

  6. What a rad name for a grain, freekeh! Delicious looking use for it too!

  7. I am so intrigued by freekuh now! Two swappers have used it this month and it sounds wonderful – as does the dressing you made around it.
    I think remaking dressings on a yearly basis is part of that Southern tradition. It’s hard to beat cornbread dressing, though : )

  8. I want that freekah. Gonna hunt for it online. sounds amazing. and this recipe looks gorgeous. thanks for turning me onto something new. el

  9. @Barb, we all forgive you for not participating:) I read your blog and I know how much you cook and post (and tempt me with your delicacies:)

    @Lydia, I thought of you as I was dragging freekeh from the pantry and I know that there will be a post on your blog about it pretty soon. Yes, it is your kind of food!

    @Lindsay, thanks:) the name of the grain leaves a lot of room for the utmost cheesiness:)

    @Milkice, i mene to kod nas u Srbiji baš nervira – nešto postane popularno, i odmah mu skoči cena. A ova naša igrica je vrlo zabavna, puna izazova.

    @Pola, if you like the bite of wild rice or barley, you will like freekeh:)

    @Julia, the name is half the fun and I exploited it shamelessly!

    @Rachel, I know, I know:) Even though I did not grow up with dressings and stuffings, the cornbread stuff makes me feel all warm and fuzzy:)

    @Linda, this was my first encounter with freekeh (I love saying the name:), but it won’t be the last. I hope you try it.

  10. Oooh, I love this Lana! Guess what! I have a bag of freekeh (I like saying it). I have eaten it a couple of times, but I’ve never prepared it. Now, I have a little roadmap. Thanks! Your dish is just delectable.

  11. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again; Best Title Ever. Love that you had fun with this post! I love seeing how everyone let their creative reins out this time around! As always, I love your nod to tradition and update of recipes!

  12. I’ve never tried freekeh before – this dish looks so appetizing though!

  13. Thanks for introducing me to a new ingredient – I have never even heard of freekeh. (But from the name alone, what’s not to love? :)

  14. Wow. I’ve never heard of freekeh before this. I am loving it all and the post title totally cracked me up.

  15. Get your freekah on! I love it!!!! And I love that you’re the second person participating in the swap to use freekah, which I must confess I’ve never heard of! But now I must hunt some down and try it, you’ve made it look so very appetizing. Love the combination of hearty grains and mushrooms. There’s nothing better on a cold winter day!

  16. I could totally relate to recalling how good the Thanksgiving stuffing was but not having written down what I put into it. Now I’m certain I will have to put freekeh in next years! Sounds yummy.

  17. Lana- this is what I’m making tonight!!

  18. It has turned chilly here in Austin, and this sounds like it would be a perfect way to dispel the cold. Thank you for sharing it with me…and thank you for your kind words last week. They mean more to me than I can express. I hope you have a great Wednesday!

  19. Absolutely love learning new things and am now determined to find some freaking freekhe somewhere around town so I can give it a try. Great post!

  20. We were definitely on the same page with the celery and mushrooms in a dressing. Although, I was not as hip as you with the freekah :)

  21. Oh how I wish I was at the dinner table having the whole meal that you described. Have never ever cooked or looked at freekeh (loooove the title), but with all those extra vitamins and fiber, you have really inspired me to try it. Thanks for the recipe. Bookmarking it!

  22. Oh I love the sound of this one, I love finding new grains & I have never heard of freekeh so I must hunt some out & get my own freekeh on :) , and yes perfect with the mushrooms.

  23. I recently started using Farro and what a great grain that is (though a bit pricey). It seems to originate it in Italy. I will have to give this Freekeh a try as well. I first tried the farro with a white bean stew recipe from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now January recipes. Though I did add some pancetta to the stew, the family was satisfied with the nearly meatless combo of white beans and farro.

    Your freekeh dressing is very creative and a side dish I would definitely make! Nice rendition and great title Lana!

  24. I was so happy to see another post this swap with this awesome grain. [And glad you used the title I was originally going to go with.] Caramelized onions and mushrooms totally make my mouth water, I will have to try this. Also, glad I wasn’t the only one who discovered freekeh stays pretty chewy and firm without a large amount of cooking.

  25. LOL. Love the title of this post! Your recipe swap group sounds fun. I might have to check it out (assuming they are accepting new members). I’m definitely trying to incorporate new ingredients into my cooking rotation this year. There is so much out there to experiment with. You definitely got your freekeh on! :)

  26. Thank you for this freekeh recipe! Delicious. I discovered Greenwheat Freekeh about 6 months ago. I have type 2 diabetes and freekeh is Low GI – great for managing diabetes. I found it on line at freekehlicious.com The freekeh has a wonderful nutty taste and is already clean. (Middle eastern markets…you have to get rid of the rocks and dirt.) I think this is the next quinoa!

  27. This freekah looks great. I have had a packet sitting around for so long now. I am going to have to make this recipe.

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