This is a very healthy vegetarian dish full of Mediterranean flavor. Freekeh is wheat that has been harvested while still very young, and thus is very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has a slightly smoky flavor due to the way the wheat is processed after harvest, so it pairs well with mellow flavors, such as beans and chicken. This recipe calls for cooking the beans from scratch, but you can also use canned garbanzos for a faster version.
For the Garbanzos:
½ cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked at least 4 hours
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
a few black peppercorns
For the Pilaf:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup yellow onion, small dice
¼ cup carrot, peeled, small dice
¼ cup fennel, small dice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch of cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup freekeh, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 ½ cups fresh cilantro, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 cup parsley, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 sprig mint, leaves roughly chopped
½ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)
For the Garbanzos:
Drain the garbanzos of their soaking liquid.
Place in a medium sized pot and cover with about 3 cups fresh water. Add the rest of the ingredients (you can place them in a bouquet garni bag if you want) and bring the water up to a boil. Simmer until the garbanzos are cooked through. Drain, remove the aromatics, and set aside.
To Prepare the Pilaf:
Heat up the olive oil in a medium sized pot. Sweat the onion, carrot, fennel, and garlic until the onion and fennel appear translucent. Add the spices and a pinch of salt, and stir for another minute or two. Drain the freekeh of its soaking liquid and add it to the pot. Stir everything together so that the freekeh is well integrated, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring gently. Pour over the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for 30 minutes. Add the garbanzos and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the wheat is cooked through. Keep in mind that these are wheat berries, so they will have a slightly chewy texture and will not be completely soft.
Make the short sauce by blending all of the ingredients together until coarsely chopped, you do not want a smooth puree. Spoon a bit of the sauce into the pot and stir to combine. Serve while warm.