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4 Ways to cook freekeh

4 Ways To Cook Freekeh

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Ready to expand your grain choices? Like quinoa and bulgur wheat, freekeh is a historic grain that is becoming increasingly popular.

A long-time staple of Mediterranean and North African cooking, freekeh is an adaptable grain with a big flavor and plenty of nutritional value.

Freekeh can be cooked on the stovetop, and it requires minimal hands-on work. Known for its nutty and slightly smoky flavor, freekeh has a chewy texture that goes well in everything from soups and stews to salads and traybakes!

Freekeh can also be cooked and served as a side, just like quinoa and rice. In this guide, we’ll take a look at 4 different ways to cook freekeh.

Whole Freekeh Vs Cracked Freekeh

There are two variations of freekeh: whole and cracked. Whole freekeh is the full grain before it’s been processed.

Cracked freekeh is essentially whole freekeh that’s been broken down into smaller pieces. Cracked freekeh is still considered a whole grain.

The main difference between the two varieties is the cooking time. Whole freekeh takes around 35 to 40 minutes to soften, while cracked freekeh can cook in roughly 20 minutes.

Once cooked, whole freekeh has a slightly chewier texture, while cracked freekeh is a touch softer. Both versions still have that delicious nutty taste, however!

Do You Need To Soak Freekeh Before Cooking?

You don’t need to soak freekeh before cooking it, but if you’re using whole freekeh, an overnight soak can shorten the cooking time. However, it won’t affect the flavor or the texture.

To soak whole freekeh, rinse one cup of grains with fresh water. In a bowl, cover the grains with water and leave them to soak overnight.

Drain well before cooking. As the soaked grains are already partly softened, you can reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes.

Although soaking freekeh might reduce the cooking time slightly, it increases the overall preparation time significantly. It really isn’t a necessary step and it won’t affect the flavor.

The only time soaking is a necessary step is when the freekeh is being cooked in a stew, soup, or pilaf.

It is important to rinse freekeh grains before cooking them. Before rinsing, pick through your grains for any small pieces of debris.

Place your grains in a sieve or colander, and rinse them thoroughly under cold water.

4 Ways To Cook Freekeh

Freekeh is a surprisingly easy grain to cook. It doesn’t require lots of soaking and careful watching. Instead, there’s minimal hands-on time.

Cooking Freekeh On The Stovetop

4 Ways To Cook Freekeh (1)

The most popular method for cooking freekeh is on the stovetop. This is a hands-off method that delivers a chewy texture.

The most important consideration when cooking freekeh is the grain-to-water ratio. The best ratio is 1 to 2.5: for every 1 cup of freekeh, use 2.5 cups of water. 1 cup of uncooked freekeh yields roughly 3 cups of cooked freekeh.

The freekeh should absorb all the water, but if at the end of the cooking time there’s still some left, don’t panic.

Remove the lid, and test the texture of the grain. If it’s soft, take the pan off the heat, and drain the excess liquid.

For a quick flavor boost, swap the water for stock.

Cooked on the stovetop, you can use your freekeh in a variety of ways. Serve it with curries in place of rice, or topped with your favorite pasta sauce. You can also stir your cooked freekeh into salads and traybakes.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup freekeh.
  • 2.5 cups water.
  • Seasonings.
  • Medium pan with lid.

How To Cook Freekeh On A Stovetop

  1. Pick over the freekeh grains and rinse thoroughly in cold water.
  2. Combine 1 cup of freekeh with 2.5 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Season, reduce the heat, and cover.
  5. Simmer the grains until tender: 20 minutes (cracked) or 35 minutes (whole).
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Leave the grains to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid, fluff the grains with a fork, and serve.

Cooking Freekeh In The Microwave

It is possible to cook freekeh in the microwave, although you might not achieve the same texture as stovetop cooking. However, this is an excellent alternative method if you have limited kitchen equipment. For example, in a dorm room or an office.

Cooking freekeh in the microwave follows a similar method to cooking freekeh on the stovetop.

Begin by boiling the water. You can do this using the microwave! Fill a microwave-safe dish with water, placing wooden chopsticks in the bowl to prevent the water from superheating. Microwave the water for 30-second intervals, until bubbles form.

In a separate bowl, combine the freekeh with the seasonings and oil, and stir so the grains are coated. Add the freekeh to the boiled water, and stir.

Cover the dish, and cook in the microwave on high. This will follow roughly the same timings as stovetop cooking: 20 minutes for cracked, 35 minutes for whole.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup freekeh.
  • 2 cups boiling water.
  • ½ tbsp olive oil.
  • Seasonings.
  • Microwave-safe bowl.

How To Cook Freekeh In The Microwave

  1. Measure your freekeh, pick over the grains, and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Boil 2 cups of water. This can be done on the stovetop, with a kettle, or in the microwave.
  3. Combine the freekeh grains with your chosen seasonings and ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Stir.
  4. Combine the freekeh and boiling water. Stir and cover. Cook on high for 20 minutes (cracked) or 35 minutes (whole).
  5. Drain any excess liquid.
  6. Fluff the freekeh grains with a fork, and serve.

Cooking Freekeh In A Soup Or Stew

One of the best ways to use freekeh is in a soup or stew, but be aware that this isn’t a shy flavor! There’s a delicious nuttiness to freekeh that adds its own dimension to your dishes, so pair it with tastes that can hold their own.

If you want to cook freekeh for stews and soups, there are two ways to go about it. You can cook the freekeh separately, and stir it through at the end of the cooking process.

Or you can cook the freekeh directly in the broth. This allows the grain to absorb the flavors, for a well-rounded taste.

Before cooking, rinse and soak your whole grain freekeh. This will prevent it from absorbing too much of the broth, leaving you with the perfect texture.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup freekeh.
  • 1 onion.
  • 2 carrots.
  • 3 garlic cloves.
  • Other vegetables: zucchini, celery, kohlrabi, etc.
  • 8 cups vegetable broth.
  • Seasonings.
  • 3 tbsp olive oil.
  • Large pan.

How To Cook Freekeh In A Soup Or Stew

  • Pick over the freekeh grains, then rinse thoroughly. As the vegetables cook, soak the freekeh in fresh water.
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Dice the onion and add to the pan. Cook, stirring regularly, for roughly 8 minutes.
  • Dice the carrots and any other vegetables, and add to the pan. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until everything is starting to soften.
  • Mince the garlic, add to the pan, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Drain the freekeh and add to the pan with any seasonings. Stir to coat.
  • Add the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered until everything is tender. This will take roughly 30 minutes.
  • Check the seasonings, and serve with fresh herbs.

Cooking Freekeh In A Pilaf

Freekeh pilaf is a hearty and delicious one-pan meal that allows this exceptional grain to shine. The basic recipe we’ve listed here is adaptable to your tastes.

Try adding extra spices or more vegetables, to create a filling dish that can be served as a side for a protein, or enjoyed on its own.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup freekeh.
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 clove garlic.
  • ½ tsp cinnamon.
  • ½ tsp allspice.
  • 2 cups vegetable broth.
  • Fresh parsley, mint, and coriander (to taste).
  • Lemon juice, yogurt, and pine nuts (to serve).
  • Medium pan with lid.

How To Make Freekeh Pilaf

  • Pick over 1 cup of freekeh grains, rinse, and soak in fresh water for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the onions. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan, and add the onions. Cook over a low heat for roughly 20 minutes, until softened.
  • Mince the garlic, and add to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Drain the freekeh, and pat dry using a kitchen towel. Add to the pan, and stir to combine.
  • Add the cinnamon, allspice, and any other seasonings. Stir.
  • Cover the freekeh with the broth. Stir, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and leave to cook for 15 minutes (cracked) or 30 minutes (whole).
  • When the water is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat. Leave the pan covered for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and fluff the grains with a fork. Stir through chopped fresh herbs.
  • Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve with yogurt and pine nuts.

Final Thoughts

Freekeh is an easy grain to cook that delivers a big flavor and lots of nutritional value. Once you’ve mastered the stovetop method, you can begin to experiment with how you use the grain.

Soups, stews, and pilafs allow you to create delicious dishes in just one pan, or you can turn to the microwave when you’re running low on options!