What gets me so excited? Two things:
- Cooking is my creative outlet. It's the one place in my life where I get to color outside the lines and play with flavor combos that inspire me. (My food tends to air on the tart and salty side, so fingers crossed that is not an expression of my inner soul!) There are SO many grains to experiment with, I love the excuse this month gives me to dive in, head first.
- Whole grains are awesome. First and foremost, they taste good. Their nutty flavor just cannot be beat. They also provide a suite of B vitamins that enable the metabolic pathways for converting food into energy (aka whole grains = more energy). They have a ton of fiber to make us feel full and regulate our GI tract. The list of health benefits goes on and on, but I'll stop there - you get the point - eat 'em up!
Easy Does It
As much as I love to play in the kitchen, I also have a profound appreciation for an easy, satisfying meal that does not require an evening of washing dishes. On that note, I am pleased to present a one pot meal that's super scrumptious and easy-peasy. Not to mention, a pot of this guy can cover dinner or lunches for the week - double win!
Freekeh is my new fav - I'm totally obsessed. It is a kind of wheat most similar in texture to bulgur - the grain in tabbouleh. Unlike any other grain, Freekeh is harvested while the wheat is still green and then it is literally burned to impart a distinct smoky flavor. (If you're like me and enjoy nerding-out on this stuff, read more here). In just 20-25 minutes, this popular Middle Eastern grain is ready to go. Compared to other grains, it is higher in protein and fiber and prevents blood sugar spikes. What's not to love!?
- Freekeh -1.5 cups, uncooked
- Green olives - 1 can or ~ 1 cup (purchased at TJs - yup, I'm into keeping it easy)
- Ground Cumin - 3 Tbsp
- Chicken - 2 large skinless, boneless breasts, diced*
- Lemon juice - fresh squeezed, 1/4 cup
- Garlic - 6-8 cloves, minced or chopped
- Fresh Herbs -1 bunch chopped of each: parsley, cilantro, and scallions
- Celery - 6 stalks, sliced into half moons
- Fresh Spinach - 4 to 6 handfuls
- Veg or chicken stock - 3 cups
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- Cayenne - a dash for optional kick
- In a large pot or dutch oven (this dish would also work really well in a slow cooker), throw in the freekeh, chicken and stock, making sure the chicken is at least 75% submerged in liquid. If not, add some water.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer until chicken* is cooked in the middle (~10 to 15 minutes).
- After dicing chicken, return to pot with all remaining ingredients except fresh herbs and spinach.
- Simmer until freekeh has soaked up the water (~5 to 10 more minutes).
- Take pot off of heat and stir in fresh herbs and spinach. Taste to see if it needs more salt, pepper, or lemon. Get it just the way you like it, then gobble up!
*Raw chicken is really high on my list of things I do not want to deal with. Here's my strategy: Throw the whole breast in the pot of liquid and cook until no longer pink in the middle. With tongs, pull the breasts out of pot, then dice and throw back in.
Just because I can't get enough tomatoes when they're in season, I went crazy and topped with fresh tomatoes - optional, but delightfully colorful if trying to wow some guests.
PS Feta shown in the picture above, but last minute I decided this dish had so much flavor, no feta needed. Your call.
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! We love to hear from you and learn your modifications.