My latest grain discovery is freekeh, an heirloom varietal I picked up at Geechie Boy Market & Mill on Edisto Island, S.C., when I stopped in to buy a bag of their famous grits. Now that I’m hooked, I’m happy to know I can find it at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores here in Atlanta. These young wheat berries are sun-dried and lightly roasted, giving them a smoky tinge that pairs exceptionally well with hearty fall vegetables, dried fruits, sausages, and nuts. This colorful meat-in-one mélange, based on a recipe I found on a freekeh website, features all of them and is a great starting place to explore the possibilities. If you can’t find freekeh, other hearty grains like farro, whatberries, and barley would also work well. Freekeh is also sold cracked, which cooks faster.
For 6 servings
1 cup whole freekeh
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package (6 links) chicken-apple sausage, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 8-ounce package white mushrooms, quartered
6 ounces chopped fresh kale
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
In a medium saucepan, combine freekeh and broth and bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat, and let simmer for about 45 minutes, or until tender and chewy.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread out the diced squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Let roast until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until lightly browned. Remove to a plate. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until tender, then add the kale and sauté until kale is wilted.
Stir in the cooked and drained freekah, sausage, sage, cranberries and pecans. Cook 2 more minutes and serve.