Is Freekeh the Next Big Grain?
Will chefs get freekeh fever?
Contained within the Times' glowing review of the Northern Spy Food Company is a mention of the restaurant's risotto, which is made from freekeh, a roasted green wheat. The grain, combined with the risotto's butter and mascarpone, earns the dish the designation of "hippie mac-and cheese."
Northern Spy's chef, Nathan Foot, may be on to something: on the Atlantic Food Channel today, there's an article about freekeh, which it describes as the last ancient grain.
According to the story, mentions of freekeh, which is a smoked or roasted green wheat, go all the way back to Bibilical texts. It's native to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, but has recently been gaining popularity among Israeli chefs seeking to build and define a cuisine out of local ingredients. Like other ancient grains, freekeh's full of minerals, protein, and vitamins. It also has about four times the fiber of brown rice and almost no gluten. In other words, it's good for you.
Whether or not American chefs get as hot and bothered about freekeh as they have about, say, farro remains to be seen, but it's already on heavy rotation on the menu at Tanoreen, and Trader Joe's even sells bags of pre-cooked freekeh, suggesting that the grain has already come a long way from the obscurity of health food store shelves.
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