I realize I’ve made a mistake….I’ve been telling you all how much I love freekeh but I’ve never told you what it actually is. Whoops. That might have been helpful, right?
So to make up for it, today’s post is dedicated to this tasty little grain. You might end up with a new favorite! And stick around ’til the end of this post, I’ve got a brand new recipe for a savory Freekeh with Sausage and Sweet Potatoes.
What Is Freekeh?
Freekeh is an ancient grain that originated in the Middle East. Although it’s been common in their cuisines for ages, it’s just now gaining popularity in the United States. It’s a wheat product, so it contains gluten, but compared to other grains it has a higher protein and fiber content.
As the story goes, it got it’s name from an unfortunate event when an ancient village in the Middle East was attacked and all the wheat fields were burned. Afterwards, the surviving villagers realized that rubbing the charred and burnt chaff revealed a kernel inside that was still edible. So “freekeh” literally means “to rub”.
The flavor of freekeh can be described as nutty and the texture is chewy – think of it as somewhere between quinoa (small fluffy grains) and farro or barley (super chewy, very dense grains). It can be a great substitute for rice as well, especially recipes that call for brown rice.
How Do I Cook Freekeh?
Just like other grains, you start with uncooked freekeh that’s dry. It can be cooked in water, or for more flavor, reach for a low-sodium broth or stock. I typically use a 1:2 ratio of dry freekeh to liquid. Unlike pasta, where you drain excess liquid, freekeh will cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Freekeh can be purchased cracked or whole (although cracked is more common) and cooking time is usually about 15 to 25 minutes depending on how cracked it is.
One of my favorite things to do with freekeh is cook a large batch at the beginning of the week in a veggie broth. That adds a little flavor, but not too much. Then I’m able to add it to other recipes throughout the week and save time on one of the more time consuming ingredients of my weeknight meals.
Where Can I Find Freekeh?
Glad you asked! I’m excited to see more and more grocers and retailers carrying freekeh, but it can still be a little tricky to find. So far I’ve had luck finding it at my local Whole Foods Market and Sprouts. Once I even got lucky and found it at CostCo, but I haven’t seen it there since. I’m a creature of habit and tend to shop at the same places over and over again, but I start seeing it anywhere else I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Not sure where to find it where you live? You can also order from online vendors such as Amazon to get freekeh delivered. (Read my full disclosure statement HERE. The two images below contain affiliate links.)
And to further give full disclosure, I’m a member of the Freekeh Foods Ambassador Program, which means I have access to a dietitian-curated collection of resources that I’m able to use in my private practice. I’m not paid to participate but I love freekeh and am proud to support products I know and use myself.
I’ve been cooking with freekeh on and off for a while now and have accumulated a couple of recipes in my wheelhouse. Check out my Freek-eh-Roni (for anyone who loves Rice-A-Roni) and Thai Freekeh Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce.
Here’s a few other examples of delicious freekeh recipes from other dietitian bloggers and recipe developers:
- Freekeh Chicken Cabbage Soup from Emily Kyle Nutrition
- Kimchi Freekeh Fried Rice from Mandy Enright of Nutrition Nuptials
- Freekeh Seafood Risotto from Mandy Enright of Nutrition Nuptials
- Freekeh Stuffed Acorn Squash from Halsa Nutrition
And now for the new recipe! I was inspired last week while making a Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage and Sweet Potatoes. You can find that recipe HERE or hop over to my Facebook page to catch a Facebook Live with a cooking demo. But the filling of that stuffed acorn squash was so tasty I wanted to repeat it in another recipe. Since freekeh is a hearty grain that can hold its own again sausage and chunks of sweet potato, that’s what I went with!
Check out the full recipe below. Have you cooked with freekeh before?
Freekeh with Sausage and Sweet Potatoes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup uncooked freekeh
2 cups water or low sodium broth
1/2 pound mild Italian pork sausage
1 1/2 cups diced sweet potatoes (1/4″ dice)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Prepare the veggies by dicing the red onion and peeling and dicing the sweet potato. Set aside until needed.
Heat a saucepan over high heat to bring the water or low-sodium broth to a boil. Add the uncooked freekeh and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent the freekeh from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on another stovetop burner. Add the mild Italian sausage and break apart with a spatula to allow it to begin browning. Add the diced sweet potato and allow to cook about 5 minutes. Add the diced red onion and dried cranberries. Stir to combine as the sausage continues to brown. Continue cooking until sausage is fully cooked and no pink remains. Remove the skillet from heat
Wash and dry the fresh thyme and fresh sage. Strip the thyme from the stem (about 1 to 2 teaspoons worth) and roughly chop the fresh sage (about 1 to 2 teaspoons worth). Adjust the amount of herbs according to taste preference. Add the chopped pecans and herbs to the sausage mixture and stir to combine.
Once the freekeh is finished cooking, add to the skillet with the sausage mixture and stir. Serve immediately.
If using low-sodium stock, vegetable or chicken stock will complement these flavors the best.