Ancient Grains from the Middle East bring new dinner time pleasure

By on October 12, 2017

Freekeh Stuffed Bell Peppers
From the Middle East and all their ancient techniques comes a new flavor profile for stuffed peppers. Make up a batch of the dried middle eastern spice mix known as Baharat * and keep it the pantry. Delicious for these stuffed peppers as well as for kebabs, chicken, and lamb dishes.
Instead of rice, use the ancient grain called Freekeh, which means “to rub”. The story goes that when an ancient wheat crop caught fire about 2000 years ago, instead of throwing away the scorched grains, the cooks just rubbed vigorously and went forth. The flavor is nutty, texture is crunchy, the color is golden and after cooking like rice add it to soups, salads or dishes like this one. Available where ever Bob’s Red Mill products are sold.
1 cup cooked freekeh
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons EACH: minced carrots and dried figs
¼ cup chopped almonds
6 bell peppers cut open, seeds removed
1/2-pound ground lamb or beef
1 tablespoon Baharat seasoning*
1 cup prepared marinara sauce
2 tablespoons red wine
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dried crumbled mint leaves
1. Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
2. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in the carrots and cook and stir until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add figs and almonds and cook 2-3 more minutes.
3. Stir in ground meat, then sprinkle with Baharat, and cook until browned and crumbled. Add marinara sauce, wine, yogurt and honey and simmer for 10 minutes. Add freekeh and mint and simmer 5 minutes more, or until most liquid has absorbed.
4. Place peppers in a shallow baking dish, and fill with meat mixture. Add water to the bottom of the baking dish up about ½ inch.
5. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve hot.

*To make Baharat seasoning, combine in a clean glass jar 1 tablespoon EACH: Dried all-spice, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, smoked paprika, black pepper and sea salt. Mix and store covered in the pantry.

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About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”