Good Tasting, Good-For-You Freekeh With Broccolini and Apricots

A quick and easy grain dish full of textures and flavors.
A quick and easy grain dish full of textures and flavors.

Michael Crupain has a unique background: He’s a board-certified preventive medicine physician, and former director of food and safety testing at Consumer Reports, who staged in the kitchen of the late-great David Bouley’s Danube restaurant in New York.

So when he writes a cookbook full of healthy recipes, you needn’t fear that they’ll be bland or boring.

In fact, the 75 recipes in his “The Power Five” (National Geographic, 2023), of which I received a review copy, are wonderfully tantalizing and nourishing.

The recipes spotlight the “Power Five,” the essential foods that he says we should all eat more of to optimize health. They are: fruits and vegetables; beans; grains; fish; and nuts and seeds.

Crupain believes that including more of these five will help boost vitality and longevity. I can’t speak to that. But I can say that he makes it easy to include more of those five in any diet with recipes such as “Baby Artichokes A La Barigoule” (Who knew artichokes were rich in inulin, a fiber that feeds gut bacteria?); “Miso ‘Creamed’ Corn” (Scrape the juice off the corn cobs to create a creamy sauce with no cream in it.); “Roasted Chicken with Spicy Scallion Slaw” (It’s made with two of the Power Five’s: veggies and seeds.); and “Three Seasons Cake” (It’s made with peak season fruit plus whole wheat durum or Kamut flour).

His “Freekeh with Broccolini and Apricots” is a bountiful side dish or salad of grain, fruit, and veggies that is fast and easy to make.

Enjoy as a side, salad course, or main dish.
Enjoy as a side, salad course, or main dish.

Freekeh is an ancient grain made from green durum wheat that is roasted and rubbed to create its smoky, nutty flavor and chewy texture. It cooks up in a pot of salted water in about 20 minutes, drinking up the liquid and steaming much like rice.

Bite-size pieces of broccolini get sauted with garlic, and flavored with a Turkish chile pepper known as Urfa. I sourced mine from the Bay Area’s Oaktown Spice Shop. Although red chile flakes can be substituted, if need be, the flavor profile will be quite different. That’s because Urfa chile flakes have a distinct smoky, earthy, and raisin-y taste that remind me a lot of black garlic. Although the recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of the Urfa chile flakes, I ended up using a full 1 teaspoon to really let the flavor shine through.

Urfa chile flakes.
Urfa chile flakes.

The cooked broccolini gets incorporated with the freekeh, then tossed with chopped apricots and a drizzle of olive oil. Crupain says to feel free to use either dried or fresh apricots, depending on the season. I used dried, and depending upon the variety and size, you might want to add more apricots like I did, so that their sweet, tangy taste is even more evident.

This is a hearty grain dish with loads of textures, plus a gentle hit of heat. It’s wonderful served warm, at room temperature, or even chilled.

And no doubt, it does a body good.

Healthful and delicious.
Healthful and delicious.

Freekeh with Broccolini and Apricots

(Serves 6)

1 cup freekeh

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon Urfa chile flakes (dried Turkish chile pepeprs), or more to taste

2 bunches broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 to 9 apricots, cut into bite-sized pieces (dried or fresh, depending on the season), to taste

Cook the freekeh with the salt in a saucepan according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chile flakes, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broccolini, and saute until just tender when pierced with a fork. Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Season with salt to taste.

When the freekeh is cooked through, add the broccolini mixture to the freekeh in the saucepan, and stir to combine over medium heat. Remove from the heat, and add olive oil to taste. Stir in the apricots, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Adapted from “The Power Five” by Michael Crupain

Another Freekeh Recipe to Enjoy: Fig, Walnut & Freekeh Salad

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  • This looks delish! One thing—I think you mean “inulin” not “insulin” in the line about artichoke and its gut-healthy fiber—darn that autocorrect!

  • Hi Stephanie: Oops, thank you for spotting that. I just changed it. Much appreciated. 😉

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