I first cooked freekeh at an Ottolenghi lesson at the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. Freekeh is a green wheat that has a slightly grassy, slightly smokey flavour and can be used in place of rice, ebly or bulghar wheat. OK, so grassy doesn’t sound particularly appetising, but once I tasted it, I loved it. The flavour is unique, and delicious. If you can’t get hold of freekeh you could use bulghar in this recipe but it won’t have the same fresh, smokey flavour.
3-4 handfuls puy lentils
1 green pepper – sliced
1 large onion – finely sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ clove garlic – finely chopped
270ml vegetable stock
hanful each of parsley and coriander – roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy based pot over a medium heat then add the onions and sauté until soft and brown. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, bring the lentils to boil in pan of water. Simmer for 15 minutes until tender but still holding their shape. Drain.
Soak the freezeh in cold water for five minutes or so, drain and rinse well.
Add the soaked and drained freekeh to the onions along with the spices, cooked lentils, stock, and a little salt and pepper. Stir well, bring to the boil then add the sliced green pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for a further five minutes.
Remove the lid, allow to cool a little then gently stir in the herbs and garlic. Adjust seasoning if required and serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil.