Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Freekeh with Cabbage

I shouldn't really be using my new rondeau before my birthday in a couple of weeks, but having had it re-tinned it is a bit irresistible. I should say tinned since it began life un-tinned as a 19th century preserving pan which I decided would serve me better as a rondeau that I could use for cooking things other than preserves.
Hedd and Leo had bought a cabbage on a walk in the village so I decided to create a dish that included it and some freekeh, a roasted wheat product from Lebanon which most resembles bulgur. If you can't find freekeh you can substitute bulgur but it won't have quite the same flavour. The freekeh grains should still have a slight bite to them when they are cooked.

Freekeh grains

For this recipe (serves 4) you will need,
2 medium onions, chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
Half a cabbage shredded, roughly 500g
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
150g of freekeh or bulgur
1 rounded teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
75g of cheddar, grated
I litre of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayene pepper

Begin by sweating the onion, garlic and celery in the olive oil for 3 or 4 minutes until they become translucent. add the cabbage and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes before adding the tomato purée, cook for a couple of minutes. Tomato purée always requires a little cooking before adding liquid for best results. Add 500ml of the vegetable stock and seaoning and continue to cook on a gentle heat until nearly all the liquid has been reduced. Taste the reduced liquid at this point and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the freekeh and the remaining stock, stir well in to distribute with the braised vegetables and cover the surface with the grated cheese. Place the pan in a moderate oven 180C for 20 to 40 minutes, The finished dish should be dry without  liquid but the not dried out. The vegetables and freekeh should be moist, tender and full of flavour. This can be served hot or at room temperature.

It's possible to introduce any number of vegetables into this basic dish, but I find it best to restrict it to one or two so that you can create the cabbage version, the peppers version, the green beans version for instance. That way the different versions that you serve up are more distinct.
The addition of cheese gives this dish a protein component making it more of a meal on its own, but it's easy enough to omit the cheese and serve the dish in the same way as you would serve a pillaf.
Again this is a dish which will lend itself to alteration based on what you have at hand, just remember the flavour of the stock will determine how full flavoured the finished dish is.


  1. I can eat this! I don't even have to tweak it in the slightest :) Now I just have to source Freekeh here in Northern Tasmania. I have eaten it before on the mainland but it might be a step too far over to the left here in Tasmania ;). Cheers for posting something wonderful that doesn't need vegan translation ;)

  2. I just found this recipe in a google search for freekeh and cabbage.The ingredients list doesn't say how much tomato puree or what kind and how much cheese to use.

  3. Hello and thank you for pointing out my omission, I think I must have been half asleep leaving out two of the ingredients! I have now corrected things, thanks to you. I do hope you try this recipe and enjoy the results, best wishes, Tôbi.