Olive Magazine

What is freekeh and how do you pronounce it?

Published: February 11, 2015 at 9:17 am

We explain what on earth 'freekeh' is, what it tastes like, the difference between 'whole' and 'cracked' freekeh, and how to use it in a simple, satisfying winter salad.

Freekeh (pronounced 'free-kah') is a green-ish cereal made from wheat. The grain is harvested early, before it has fully ripened, and the chaff and skin are burned off, giving the flavour a smoky edge. The grain is then sold whole or cracked - the latter looks like greenish bulgar wheat.


Freekeh has a slightly chewy texture and an earthy, smoky flavour that goes well with Middle Eastern foods. It has lots of fibre, plenty of protein (11g per 100g) and a low Gi index, which makes it a useful ingredient for eating well.

Cook whole grains for pilafs and salads, and use cracked grains to thicken soup or use in stuffings. Cook it from raw for 20-30 minutes, or, to speed things up, soak it in cold water overnight and you'll be bale to cook it very quickly the next day. You can buy it easily: just look in health food shops, supermarkets or online from ottolenghi.co.uk. Simple really! Give it a go in one of our recipes...

Freekeh and artichoke salad with golden onions, sultanas and herb labneh

40 minutes + straining, serves 6, easy

freekeh 200g

large sultanas (we used Waitrose Orange River Sultanas) 50g

onions 2 large, halved and sliced

olive oil

sherry vinegar 3 tbsp

caster sugar 1 tsp

cumin seeds 2 tsp, toasted

good quality artichokes hearts in olive oil 280g jar, drained

dill ½ a small bunch, chopped

herb labneh

full-fat Greek yoghurt 200g

dill finely chopped to make 2 tbsp

parsley finely chopped to make 2 tbsp

step 1

To make the labneh, stir a good pinch of salt into the yoghurt then tip into sieve lined with a muslin or clean J-cloth. Put the sieve over a bowl, then cover with clingfilm and chill overnight. Next day, tip the contents of the sieve into a dish and make a few swirls on the surface. Mix the herbs with some olive oil and pour over.

step 2

Cook the freekeh in boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put the sultanas in a bowl and pour boiling water over to cover.

step 3

Cook the onions in olive oil in a large frying pan until really caramelised and golden. (This can take 20-30 minutes, so be patient.) Drain the sultanas. Take a third of the onion out of the frying pan, then add the vinegar, sugar, cumin, drained sultanas and another 2 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Stir thoroughly, then take off the heat and season.

step 4

Drain the freekeh well, then tip into a bowl. Add the onion and sultana mix and all the liquid from the pan. Toss everything together. Pile the freekeh onto a serving plate. Add the artichokes and dill, then toss gently through the freekeh. Dollop over teaspoonfuls of the labneh, then scatter over the reserved onions and a few more herbs, if you like.


per serving 288 kcals, fat 11g, saturates 3.2g, carbs 37.2g, fibre 3.8g, protein 8g, salt 1.1g

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