Friday, February 13, 2015

Sweet Spiced Freekeh with Chickpeas, Tomato Sauce, Yogurt and Buttery Almonds {One Photo Friday}

It's Mystery Box Madness Challenge week at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we make a dish from Diana Henry or any former IHCC chef that must include at least three mystery ingredients out of a list of ten. I had cooked Diana Henry recipes for the past MBM challenges but when freekeh was added to the  list, I immediately went to my Ottolenghi books since I knew he had a few freekeh recipes I wanted to try. (Freekeh, if you aren't familiar, is a green wheat that is roasted and has a similar texture to bulgur wheat.

I quickly found a recipe in Jerusalem that in itself included three of the ten mystery box ingredients listed below: carrots, freekeh of course, and almonds. Ottolenghi mentions that it can be served with yogurt or tomato sauce--I thought 'why not both?'--which added two more of the mystery ingredients to the mix. The only challenge left? Well, the recipe I was planning to cook was Poached Chicken with Sweet Spiced Freekeh and I don't eat meat or poultry. No matter. I do eat chickpeas and thought they would make a fabulous substitute adding some protein and extra fiber to the freekeh. 

 February's Mystery Box Madness Ingredients:

*Freekeh or Bulgur Wheat
Sausage (any kind)
Basil (fresh, dry, any kind)

Since the recipe practices the technique of poaching meat or poultry in broth and then using that broth to cook grains, I just omitted the broth-making steps, transferred the cinnamon and carrots from the poaching broth to the freekeh, and used my own garlic veggie stock. Since I changed the ingredients and method quite a bit, I am writing out the recipe below with my changes. You can take a look at the original recipe on Ottolenghi's website here. I also made a Tomato Sauce recipe from Jerusalem (the one used in Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce) and listed that recipe below.

Sweet Spiced Freekeh
Adapted Heavily From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi 
(Serves 2 Very Generously)

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into slices
1 large onions
1 Tbsp olive oil

2 long cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

1 cups cracked freekeh 
about 1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley 

To  Serve: Greek Yogurt and Tomato Sauce: See recipe below. 

Slice onion and carrot very thinly and place in a medium saucepan with the olive oil. Fry over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onion turns golden brown and soft. Add spices and cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Add freekeh, chickpeas and veggie broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Stir gently, remove from heat and let sit covered for another 20 minutes.

Remove the leaves from the parsley bunch and chop coarsely. Add it to the cooked freekeh, mixing it in with a fork. Taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

When ready to serve, place butter, sliced almonds and a little salt into a small frying pan and fry until golden brown--being careful not to burn almonds. Spoon freekeh mixture into dishes or onto one platter. Top with a scoop each of Greek Yogurt and Tomato Sauce. Garnish the with buttered almonds and serve. 


Tomato Sauce
Adapted Slightly From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp superfine sugar
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add spices and onion and cook for 8-10 minutes, until onion is completely soft. Add white wine and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, chile, garlic, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until very thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. (Note: I wanted a smoother sauce so I used the immersion blender to blend up the tomatoes and onions.) 

OK, I am going to have to re-name One Photo Friday since I snuck in another shot once again. This dish was too pretty not to see another view. ;-) 
Maybe Two Photo Friday, or iPhone Photo-Friday???

Notes/Results: I ended up extremely pleased with this dish--such great flavors and so satisfying. Warning--buttery almonds are majorly addicting--beware! But they are so worth it. The combination of the freekeh with the beans and sweet carrots with the slightly spicy warm tomato sauce, cooling Greek yogurt and crunchy, buttery almonds is fabulous. As mentioned, the carrots and cinnamon were originally in the poaching broth for the chicken that the freekeh is cooked in--but I am glad I included them in cooking of the freekeh for their sweeter notes. The original recipe also included allspice in the freekeh. I am just not a big fan of the flavor so I subbed in ground cumin instead. If you eat chicken, try Ottolenghi's original recipe--I am sure it is fabulous. If you want a vegan dish, leave off the yogurt and toast the almonds in oil or non-dairy margarine and you are all set. But for me, I loved how my changes made this dish turn out and I would definitely make it again.   

You can see what mystery ingredients, recipes and chefs other participants chose for February's Mystery Box Madness Challenge by checking out the picture links on the post at the IHCC website.

{One Photo Friday: Since I normally drag out my big camera and gear, take a bunch of photos of my recipes, and then spend time obsessing over them--I decided that for Fridays, I'll simplify by posting a recipe or something interesting and then just take (usually) one photo of it with my iPhone--no muss/no fuss.} 

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. That looks fantastic. I'm always looking for interesting freekeh recipes and your adaptation looks like one I need to try!

  2. I have never tried freekeh before! The changes you made is brilliant! Love it how your turn this chicken dish around to make it vegan! And yes, any form of almonds are rather addicting to me!

  3. Hey Joyce,
    They are not exactly alike as freekeh is a young green wheat when it is roasted/processed but they are very similar and interchangeable in recipes so if you can't find one get the other. ;-)

  4. Thanks Joyce! Definitely give it a try sometime. And if any almonds are addicting to you, buttered almonds will hook you for good. ;-)

  5. Thanks Zosia! ;-)

  6. Grace-Life can be simpleFebruary 17, 2015 at 5:22 PM

    I've never tried freekeh before though I've definitely seen Ottolenghi's recipes with freekeh. Yes I'm abit weary of trying new food in case it doesn't taste nice to me. But you are making me curious about it. I'm sure buttered almonds did it for me with your dish :)

  7. This is an absolutely gorgeous dish, Deb. I love that the MBM challenge encouraged you to use tomato sauce with the yogurt. Seriously, why not? I also think chickpeas are an excellent sub in place of chicken. In fact, I think the chickpeas compliment the freekah more than the chicken would. Can you tell I'm over chicken? Ha ha

    P.S. Buttered and toasted almonds...I will no doubt eat them all!


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