janet @ the taste space

Turkish Freekeh Pilaf with Chickpeas and Wild Greens

In Mains (Vegetarian) on February 26, 2013 at 5:57 AM

Turkish Freekeh Pilaf with Chickpeas and Wild Greens

OK, file this under “I don’t need to try that again“.

Not this dish. Chicory greens.

Chicory Greens

I hunted down chicory greens for my Random Recipe of the month. I was positively giddy to try some new-to-me greens. Pretty little wild greens, eh?

I am warning you: evil. Turns out not all greens are as lovely as spinach, Swiss chard and kale. Chicory leaves look like dandelion greens and they (likely) also taste like them: BITTER! They are cousins, after all.

This dish had such promise. I used freekeh, which is young cracked wheat with beautiful smoky undertones, and chickpeas and spiced it with paprika, cumin and pomegranate molasses. Thyme and lemon, too. Sounds beautiful but thwarted by the bitter greens. The original recipe called for ground lamb (which I obviously omitted) but I doubt that would overcome its bitterness. Next time, I’d suggest using a milder green like Swiss chard or kale. Although, the leftovers were not as vile.. either that, or I slowly became accustomed to it.

I was going to say that, in retrospect, this was obviously not meant for me since I am a pitta (which shuns bitter foods). Although, turns out the joke’s on me: chicory greens are good for pitta. I guess I must take after vata in this regard. Or maybe this is all messed up since it isn’t an Ayurvedic recipe. 😉

So, tell me, do you like bitter greens? If so, how do you enjoy eating them? If I ever try them again, I’ll go with this dish for Moroccan Braised Mustard Greens, which I’ve tried and enjoyed. Maybe I just had a particularly bitter bunch?

Turkish Freekeh Pilaf with Chickpeas and Wild Greens

This is my submission to Dom for this month’s Random Recipes, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Simple and in Season.

Turkish Freekeh Pilaf with Chickpeas and Wild Greens
Adapted from Turquoise

1 cup dry freekeh, cleaned and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile pepper
1/2 tsp smoked bittersweet paprika
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
zest from 1 lemon
sprigs of thyme
14-oz can chopped tomato
3.5 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch of chicory greens, stemmed and coarsely chopped (although I’d recommend something sweeter like Swiss chard next time)
2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained if canned
juice from 1/2 lemon

1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, garlic, chile flakes and spices and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and saute for 1 minute more.

2. Stir in the freekeh, lemon zest, thyme, tomatoes and broth and season to taste. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until the freekeh is tender. Stir in the chicory and chickpeas and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve warm.

Serves 6.

  1. Looks great. I’ll have to give it a try.

  2. Uh-oh.. Too bitter, eh? Chard (as you said) or spinach would probably work well… even kale. It *looks* really tasty! 😉 Since you’ve got the lemon juice and zest too, you could offset the bitter/sour with some dried fruit or raisins or a touch of agave. Pomegranate molasses sounds lovely.

  3. I used to hate when my mom made pilaf for dinner. This looks a million times better than the southern version. Lol! Love your description of those greens. I bet they were fantastic in the pomegranate molasses.

  4. oh I am sorry!… it does look lovely but I know what you mean about the bitterness not being nice… I made a pea and rocket soup the other day and it usually comes out beautifully but this time it was just too bitter… funnily enough a dollop or two of greek yoghurt made it delicious! thanks for entering anyway… I guess you win some and you lose some xxx

  5. Looks wonderful and I like chicory.

  6. Bitter greens can be really good at times–like radicchio with a rich and creamy contrasting dressing–but I can also find them pretty overwhelming. This pilaf sounds like it would be great with the chard or kale, though! Hooray for grains!

  7. Point taken about the bitter greens…Swiss chard it is! 🙂

  8. Bummer about the greens. It sounds and looks perfect otherwise. My Mum just got back from a trip to Jordan and brought me a big pot of Freekeh so I’ve been on the lookout for recipe. Came across this one which you might like (pom molasses again!) http://herbivoracious.com/2011/10/pomegranate-glazed-freekeh-kofte-recipe.html I’m going to try and veganize it.

  9. This is the solution for bitter greens..at least I just used this method with dandelion greens…You need too boil them twice…read about this solution somewhere on the web…the only adjustment I made was due to distraction..I was on the web so each time amounted to at least 20 minutes.. All said it worked out well..

  10. I’m an anomaly when it comes to bitter greens because I love broccoli rabe (rapini) but can’t stand escarole or endive..it makes no sense! And I agree with Pam…boiling definitely takes the bitterness out!

  11. You had me at chickpeas and greens! yum!

  12. I just bought freekeh for the first time last night. This is what I’m going to do w it!

  13. Or maybe you’re allowed to not like absolutely everything that is purportedly “good for you”. 😉 I’ve wanted to try freekeh for so long but couldn’t because of my mum’s allergies. I’ll have to track it down here!

  14. I’ve never tried chicory root before and now I’m a little scared to! I’m not a huge fan of bitter tastes. Oh well, you like so many other greens, not liking one isn’t much of a loss 😉

  15. All the flavours sound as if they should work so well together. What a shame the chicory greens spoiled it for you. Hopefully it’ll be better next time! Thanks for entering this into Simple and in Season.

  16. Not a fan of bitter tastes either, but the rest of it sounds gorgeous – definitely worth a try with other greens, I think.

  17. I just bought a bag of freekeh to play around with. This looks great but I am with you on preferring the less bitter greens. 😉 Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays.

  18. […] lettuce and mixed baby mesclun greens. Go Asian with baby bok choy or another Asian green. Try out chicory to see if you like it more than […]

  19. I realise I’m a bit late to this, but just stumbled upon this as I was wondering what the definition of chicory greens was and which greens they related to and ended up here.

    I’m from a Sicilian background and you’ll find most Southern Italians, and most likely Greeks as well, will boil these greens first, in lots of salted water (doesn’t have to be too salty but be generous with the water) and then cook them again in whatever dish they plan to use the greens.

    If the greens are bought in the dead of winter and it’s been a very cold winter, you can sometimes get away with using them straight, but it’s usually safer to boil them up first especially if you’re eating them outside of the winter season.

    I grew up on this sort of stuff, so I absolutely love them, but they can be an acquired taste! Hope you try them again and have better luck next time!

  20. […] a perfect excuse to try it out. A side dish of Turkish freekah pilaf was made loosely based upon this recipe with chickpeas and some kale thrown in for some added green goodness. Served with some Taze […]

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