It’s no secret that I love a good recipe challenge. Bob’s Red Mill challenged me to come up with a recipe to go with freekeh, the latest addition to their Ancient Grains line. I’m glad they did, because now I have a new favorite quick-cooking grain in my pantry.
I’d honestly poked fun of funny-sounding “freekeh” before I tasted it myself, in part because it conjured up memories of the rap songs playing at parties during my early college years. Ah, freekeh freekeh! Sorry.
As it turns out, freekeh is not a lyric from rap songs, nor is it bland hippie food. Sorry again. Freekeh is a flavorful strain of ancient wheat with a nutty, slightly smoky flavor and a pleasantly chewy, couscous-like texture. Bonus? Cracked freekeh cooks up in 25 minutes, so it requires less than half the time of wheat berries or other whole grains.
Cooked freekeh goes great with Mediterranean flavors. I combined it with roasted cauliflower, creamy tahini sauce and fresh herbs to make this delicious whole-grain meal.
While the grain is new to me, freekeh is actually one of the oldest grains out there. Freekeh is young, green wheat that has been roasted and cooked in the Middle East for about 2000 years. Since freekeh is a strain of wheat, it’s not gluten free, but it is highly nutritious. It’s rich in protein, iron and above all, fiber.
The fiber content is no joke. Freekeh has twice as much fiber as quinoa and it keeps me feeling full for hours and hours. I wasn’t hungry for breakfast after my dinner of roasted cauliflower and freekeh the evening before.
I’ve found two slightly different cooking methods that produce different textures. For a fluffier, more separated, couscous-like texture, cook the freekeh just until tender, then drain off any liquid and let it steam in the pot, covered, for 5 minutes, before fluffing it with a fork. If you want a more creamy, borderline risotto-like texture, cook the freekeh until it has absorbed all of the moisture in the pot.
I decided to stay true to freekeh’s Middle Eastern roots with this cauliflower and tahini dish. I found a freekeh pilaf recipe on the back of the freekeh package, and it reminded me of an amazing rice pilaf I tried in Israel, so I used that as the base of the dish. I altered the method to produce a fluffier texture, which contrasts nicely with the creamy sauce. I’ve been obsessed with the combination of creamy, nutty tahini with caramelized cauliflower ever since I tried a cauliflower pita sandwich at a local Mediterranean restaurant earlier this year.
The complete dish is my new favorite comfort meal. It’s healthy, wholesome but above all, outrageously delicious—making it pretty much perfect for post-holiday consumption.
One last note before I go. Freekeh is rather new to the scene, so you might have better luck finding it online than in your local grocery store just yet. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute another whole grain that you have in your pantry. I think whole wheat couscous, farro, quinoa or barley would go great here. You’ll just need to adjust the amount of liquid and cooking time accordingly.
Roasted Cauliflower, Freekeh and Garlicky Tahini Sauce
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 2 to 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Healthy Middle Eastern-inspired meal featuring roasted cauliflower, cracked freekeh, garlicky tahini sauce, fresh parsley and raisins. Easily made vegan. Recipe yields two large servings or up to four smaller servings.
- 1 large, tightly packed head of cauliflower, sliced into bite-sized florets
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds
- 1 ¼ cups cracked freekeh*
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (25 ounces) vegetable stock and/or water
Garlicky tahini sauce
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
- Scant ⅓ cup water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Handful fresh parsley and/or cilantro leaves, chopped
- Crumbled feta (optional, omit for a vegan dish)
- Small handful raisins
- Sprinkling of sesame seeds
- To roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss cauliflower florets with enough olive oil to cover them in a light, even layer of oil. Season with salt and pepper and arrange the florets in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until the florets are deeply golden on the edges.
- To cook the freekeh: Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re fragrant and turning golden on the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the freekeh and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander and salt, and sauté for 1 more minute. Add vegetable broth, raise the heat and bring the mixture a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, until freekeh is tender to the bite, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the dressing: In a bowl, stir together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and red pepper flakes. Whisk in the water until you have a smooth, blended tahini sauce. Season generously with salt (I added about ¼ teaspoon) and black pepper, to taste.
- To assemble the individual dishes: Start with a bed of cooked freekeh and top with roasted cauliflower. Drizzle tahini sauce generously over the dish and then top with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs, crumbled feta (optional), raisins and sesame seeds. Serve immediately. Leftovers are best stored as individual components and assembled after reheating the freekeh and cauliflower.
Recipe adapted from Bob’s Red Mill’s freekeh pilaf (found on back of freekeh bag) and my tahini dressing.
Leftovers? Leftover tahini sauce makes a great dressing for greens. Actually, any leftover components would go great in a green salad.
*Freekeh substitutions If you can’t find freekeh, substitute your whole grain of choice for the freekeh, adjusting vegetable broth and cooking time as necessary. Farro, barley, whole wheat couscous or quinoa would make great substitutes for the freekeh.
Make it gluten free: Substitute quinoa for the freekeh, adjusting the amount of liquid (vegetable broth and/or water) and cooking time accordingly.
Make it vegan/dairy free: Skip the feta.
▸ Nutrition Information
This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!
Super yummy! Great combination of flavours & textures, looking forward to the leftovers for lunch already!
I roasted brussel sprouts as I didn’t have any cauli and threw some whole garlic cloves in the roasting tin too. I could only find whole freekeh so cooked it a little longer. It was absolutely delicious, such a punch of flavour and in each bite. Will try with cauliflower too at some point but what a tasty recipe. Thank you!
Thank you for your review, Saira!
Excellent! I love this combination and the tahini sauce is fabulous and SO nutritious – a new favorite sauce. Very glad I found your post. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Jenifer!
this was so freekin’ good!! Substituted green beans for cauliflower because that’s all I had and it was fabulous. Thanks for the great recipe
You’re welcome, Trixie!
This was so yummy! I made it just as the recipe called for with the addition of some turmeric mixed in on the cauliflower before roasting it and it was delicious. I ate leftovers for days on toasted corn tortillas – this will be a go to recipe!
Super tasty! I added some lemon zest to the garnish, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It’s a winner across the family!
I’m happy you enjoyed this recipe, Karina! Thank you for sharing.
I made the cauliflower freekah dish & it exceeded my expectations. I also decided to add golden raisins which made a nice sweet addition. I am so grateful for finding your website. Thank you so much. I look forward to making more of your recipes.
Tonight was my second time making this dish! It started with finding some freekeh and then finding you recipe. My first guest loved it and so did we. So I made it again tonight for some very sophisticated, food oriented, new friends. It was a huge hit! It accompanied some salmon. I did not change anything to your recipe. And I just realized that my soup tonight was one of your recipes too! the roasted butternut squash soup! (I added some crème fraîche to it) So thank you for making my dinner so successful! Nadine
I’m glad it was such a hit! I appreciate your review, Nadine.
Amazing recipe! Katie u never disappoint! Even my almost 2yrs old kid loved it and i tell you, he is a difficult one !
Thank you, Alessia! I’m glad you loved this recipe.
is the Tahini hulled or unhulled and what’s the difference:)
Hi! You can use either. I believe this one is unhulled. I hope you try it!
I have made this Roasted Cauliflower, Freekeh with Tahini sauce often. I originally looked for Freekeh recipes for health needs. I bought a huge quantity whole-uncracked freekeh directly from the mid-west farm. I found seasoned and precooked it freezes well. I now add Freekeh to soups, pilaf and grain bowls.
Oftentimes, I use 2 packages of frozen cauliflower, tossing with oil and directly into the oven for browning.
We love the flavor variations in your recipe. A new family favorite!
I made the cauliflower freekah with the tahini sauce tonight for dinner, and it was delicious! I halved the recipe and added a little bit more coriander and cumin to the freekah pilaf. The tahini is great! i might try it on something else.. thank you for this recipe. Great for Lent! thank you!
Thank you for sharing, Brie!