A Chef does not only strive to create tasty, innovative dishes but also bear a high responsibility in the choice of products, the environmental impact, the decision to make certain preparations in the kitchen to limit food waste and lastly to manage the food waste coming from the kitchen.
On the choice of ingredients, I am not a fan of integrating produce that have come from the other end of the world, often impacting our environment in terms of CO2 emissions from transport and denying populations their basic foods as we make them into a fashionable ingredient, as is the case with quinoa.
For the broth, we all have in our kitchens vegetable and herb scraps, peelings every day. At home, the quantities are small but imagine in a professional kitchen! Don’t throw them away. You can make the vegetable and herb broth and freeze it for later use if the quantities are too much for what you are cooking on the day.
Freekeh is a Palestinian super grain, delicious, local and sustainable. This freekeh risotto adapts the Milanese preparation to our local super grain for a hearty meal or a creamy side dish.
For the vegetable broth
Vegetable scraps (thyme, oregano, carrot tops and ends, onion tops, parsley stems, zaatar leaves, tomato cores, celery bits)
For the Freekeh Risotto
6 cups vegetable & herb broth
A few leaves of sage
1 tablespoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small yellow onions minced
Pinch of ground cardamom and pinch of ground ginger
2 cups Freekeh (rinsed)
1 cup Taybeh Sauvignon Blanc (if not available, use a good quality crispy, high acidity white wine)
½ cup Baladi Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse Dead Sea Salt and freshly ground white pepper
For the Vegetable broth
Put all the vegetable and herbs in a pot, cover with water, boil for 45 minutes. When done strain and reserve the quantity needed. The rest can go into pots in the fridge or freezer.
For the Freekeh Risotto
1. Put the vegetable broth, the sage leaves and the crushed saffron threads in a pot and heat on medium heat.
2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil, and then the onions. Cook until soft. Add the cardamom and ginger.
3. Add the freekeh. You need to rinse the freekeh beforehand and remove the small stones.
4. Stir the freekeh in the olive oil and onion mix for 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Add the Sauvignon Blanc wine. Cook until the wine has evaporated.
6. Add ½ cup warm broth. Cook while stirring until absorbed.
7. Continue adding ½ cup broth at a time and stirring until evaporated.
8. When the freekeh is cooked and creamy, remove from the heat, stir in the olive oil, baladi cheese and salt and pepper to taste.