Nigel Slater’s recipe for freekeh pilau with beetroot and tomatoes
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Scrub 4 small beetroots and put them in a colander or steamer basket, then place it over the boiling water.
Let the beetroots cook till tender to the point of a knife – this will take up to about 30 minutes depending on their size.
Remove the beets from the steamer, then peel and cut them into small pieces about the size of a £2 coin.
Soak 125g of freekeh in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain and put the grain in a saucepan with 350ml of vegetable stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes until the water has been completely absorbed.
Peel and thinly slice 3 cloves of garlic. Roughly chop 2 spring onions. Cut 250g of cherry tomatoes in half.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow pan over a moderate heat, add the garlic and spring onions and sizzle for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and let them soften. Add the sliced beetroot.
Lightly mix the cooked freekeh into the tomato and beetroot.
Roughly chop a handful of coriander leaves, or parsley if you prefer, and fold into the pilau then serve. Enough for 2.
Keep a close eye on the grain as it cooks. As it approaches tenderness, the water will be completely absorbed, so you need to watch it doesn’t burn. A regular stir is a good thing.
Freekeh is just one of a variety of grains you can use for a pilau such as this, including brown rice, quinoa, millet and pearled spelt. If you feel like adding a herb, try basil, tearing the leaves and stirring them in just before you serve so they keep their keep their peppery fragrance.