Meet This Grain: Freekeh

Freekeh is a whole grain that's had new-found popularity lately. If you haven't seen it on supermarket shelves you will soon.

Freekeh (pronounced free-kah), is an ancient grain that's had new-found popularity lately. If you haven't seen it on supermarket shelves or on the menu at your favorite restaurant, be on the lookout; you will soon.

What is Freekeh?

In Arabic, the word freekeh means "to rub." About 2,000 years ago, the grain was created by accident when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their young green wheat crop was set on fire. The villagers rubbed off the burnt outer layers and cooked up the grain, and thus freekeh was born. It has a crunchy, nutty taste, which has been described as a cross between brown rice and barley.

What Makes Freekeh So Healthy?

One half cup of cooked freekeh has about 130 calories, 1 gram of total fat and 8 grams of protein. It's free of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. This ancient gem is an excellent source of manganese, providing 70% of your recommended daily amount. It's also a good source of fiber (with 4 grams per ¼ cup dry), plus phosphorus and magnesium. Freekeh is a whole grain so adding it to your diet can help you meet the USDA's Dietary Guidelines to make half your grains whole.

Freekeh is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two plant chemicals that have been shown to aid in eye health. This ancient grain also seems to work as a prebiotic, helping good bacteria flourish in the digestive tract.

What To Do With Freekeh?

Freekeh is cooked just like rice. For each cup of dry freekeh, use 2 ½ cups of water, broth or stock. Let it cook for 20-25 minutes until tender.

Use freekeh anywhere you would rice: in pilafs, soups, chili, stuffed peppers, tacos and paella. Make a double batch and store in the fridge for a delicious weeknight side or next-day lunch. Or combine freekeh with veggies, lemon and dill in this mouthwatering skillet recipe.

Lemon Chicken With Dill, Carrots and Freekeh

From 30 Ways to Freekeh! Cookbook. Reprinted with permission by the author, Bonnie Matthews

Prep time:    8 minutes
Total time:    40 minutes
Servings:    4

1 8-ounce package cracked freekeh (1 cup) ( Freekeh Foods Rosemary-Sage variety works great in this)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cups carrots diced
4-6 garlic cloves, diced
4 tablespoons Earth Balance spread or butter
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3-4 chicken breasts, whole, skinless, boneless
1 bunch fresh dill (about 1 cup), chopped
Juice of 2 lemons or about 4 tablespoons
Fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste

In a large skillet, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Toss in carrots, onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add Earth Balance® or butter to skillet and add in uncooked freekeh. Stir to coat freekeh. Add chicken broth. Place chicken in the liquid with the freekeh and vegetables. Top with the dill and the juice of one lemon. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is done. Add a little dill and cracked pepper, plus the rest of the lemon juice and serve.

Option: For extra bite, add whole green peppercorns during cooking.

TELL US: Have you tried freekeh?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Meet This Grain: Oats

We’re all pretty familiar with old-fashioned rolled oats, but there’s more to this whole grain than oatmeal -- steel cut oats, oat flour, oat bran and more.

Meet This Grain: Amaranth

This under-appreciated grain is a perfect way to get in your whole grains, plus it’s gluten-free. Get tips on cooking it and creative recipes to try this tiny grain.

Meet This Grain: Spelt

This grain (a wheat relative) has more protein and B-vitamins than wheat and may be tolerated better by those with wheat sensitivities. Get better acquainted with whole grain spelt and my investigation into the spelt vs. farro debacle.

Meet This Grain: Couscous

Okay, couscous isn't technically a standalone grain but it is made from them. Find out more about this international delight and easy ways to enjoy it.

Meet This Grain: Farro

This ancient whole grain has been making a comeback! It's versatile, easy-to-make and downright delicious.

Meet This Grain: Polenta

You might be surprised to learn that whole-grain cornmeal is packed with nutrients. Wait until you discover all the things you can do with the versatile Italian delicacy, polenta.

Meet This Grain: Bulgur

Although bulgur wheat is not as well known as the other whole grains, it’s just as nutritious and delicious!

Meet This Grain: Kamut

This ancient treasure has been around for centuries and is considered to be the great-great grandfather of grains. Find out how to cook this high protein grain and why it’s back in fashion.

Meet This Grain: Brown Rice

You’re probably familiar with brown rice but it doesn’t always get the love it deserves. Find out all the delicious ways you can savor this easy to cook whole grain.

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Cupcake Wars

10am | 9c

Cupcake Wars

11am | 10c

Cake Wars

12pm | 11c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30pm | 1:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

3:30pm | 2:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

4:30pm | 3:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

5:30pm | 4:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

6:30pm | 5:30c

Chopped

7pm | 6c

Chopped

8pm | 7c

Chopped

9pm | 8c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beat Bobby Flay

10pm | 9c

Beat Bobby Flay

10:30pm | 9:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

11:30pm | 10:30c

Chopped

12am | 11c

Beat Bobby Flay

1:30am | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30am | 1:30c

Chopped

3am | 2c

Mystery Diners

4:30am | 3:30c

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.