20 July 2010

Freekia with Fava, Preserved Lemon, and Almonds

We have been trying to use the grill as much as possible this summer, although when it is 100 degrees at 9 pm and you're standing before a blazing fire, and half your t-shirts reek of charcoal smoke, you wonder why you're doing it. I'll admit I don't have a lot of grilling experience, so I've been trying to feel my way around things beyond burgers and kabobs. The other day I grilled cedar planked salmon, and topped it with a simple relish of chopped preserved lemon and green olives. This is a lovely combination, and reminded me of the great versatility of preserved lemons.

Good cooks are economical cooks, so the next time you use lemons set aside the rinds to make a quick version of preserved lemons. Rather than the traditional preserved lemons, which can take months to cure, these are ready in minutes and keep for several weeks in the fridge. I tossed the chopped lemons into a pilaf with freekiah, a cracked green wheat common in Syria and the Levant. Freekiah has a unique, slightly smokey green flavor, and you can try this pilaf with barley or bulgur, though the result will be quite different. Fava beans (limas work also), minced herbs, goat cheese, and toasted almonds round out the pilaf.

Now of course I'm thinking of all the things to do with quick preserved lemons- a plethora of Moroccan tagines, and tossing them in salads, and using them in stuffed vegetables. But first I have to keep working on that grilling...

To check out freekiah being prepared, check out this from cookbook author Anissa Helou. I saw freekiah being spread out to dry right on the public sidewalks of Aleppo once, near the bus station.

Freekia with Fava, Preserved Lemon, and Almonds
1 pat of butter
1 cup uncooked freekiah (cracked green wheat)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
1 cup shelled fava beans or baby lima beans
1/4 cup diced preserved lemon (see below)
1/4 cup diced mixed herbs, specifically mint, chives, and parsley
2-4 ounces crumbled cheese, such as goat cheese, feta, or another fresh crumbly cheese
1/4 cup almonds, toasted

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the cinnamon, allspice, and freekiah and toast until the freekiah is slightly more opaque and the spices are fragrant. Add in 2 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer until the freekiah is tender (check package for exact times).
2. Transfer freekiah to a bowl, add the teaspoon of salt and a good drizzle of olive oil and let cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, cook the fava beans in boiling water until tender. Rinse under cool water, drain.
4. Combine beans, herbs and diced preserved lemon with freekiah. Sprinkle cheese over top. Toast almonds and sprinkle over before serving.

Quick Preserved Lemons

2 lemons
cinnamon sticks and whole cloves (optional)

1. Quarter the Lemons, and remove the inner flesh, leaving the whole rind (including the white pith) intact.
2. Place a pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt- for a medium size pot I use about a cup of salt, you want it to be very briney. If using, add the cinnamon and cloves. Add the lemon peels to the pot and boil until tender.
3. Remove lemons, and chop if using immediately. Lemons will store, covered in some brine in the fridge, for a couple weeks.


ApplesandOnions said...

I've never even heard of freekia. Looks great!

anissa helou said...

i like the quick preserved lemons. do they turn out lemony? also like the fresh take on frikeh.

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