First things first, it’s pronounced free-kah. And, in short, it’s wheat! According to legend, freekeh originated by accident when an ancient Middle Eastern village was attacked and their young wheat fields were set ablaze. In attempts to salvage their crops, the villagers rubbed away the burnt chaff and found that the roasted kernels inside were delicious! Since that time, freekeh (which literally means, “to rub”) became a mainstay of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Itis a wheat product,and therefore contains gluten.

Yes, freekeh contains gluten—but the time in the plants development stage when the wheat is harvested and processed allows for gluten to be denatured.  Some people find that freekeh has fewer side effects than other wheat products; however, keep in mind that freekeh still contains gluten.

Is freekeh a healthy option?

Freekeh is low in fat and high in protein and fiber. Serving for serving, freekeh has more protein and twice as much fiber as quinoa. (A 42g serving of freekeh has six grams of fiber and six grams of protein, versus quinoa’s three and five-and-a-half, respectively.) This means freekehkeeps you feeling full long after you’ve eaten it, so it’s a smart option for anyone focused on weight loss.

1 cup cracked freekeh
1/2 a small red onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add nuts (optional)

Add 8 cups water and the freekeh to a medium saucepan and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Strain.
Meanwhile, soak the onions in ice water in a small bowl for 10 minutes. Strain well.

Whisk together the onions, basil, dill, parsley, oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooked freekahand toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Add nuts according to your preference. Serve as a side dish with grilled chicken or mixed grill.