Freekeh and Roasted Tomato With Za'atar 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Ethnic Market Scout May 7, 2014

Freekeh is a Middle Eastern smoked green wheat that can be cooked like any other wheat grain and mixed into salads and stews. It is available at Middle Eastern markets and at some health food stores, although the Western versions of freekeh have less of the smoky aroma that is typical to the Levant variety.

Za'atar is a spice blend that typically includes dried herbs (often hyssop or thyme), sumac, sesame seeds and salt. It is available in Middle Eastern and some health food markets.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings; makes about 2 1/4 cups

  • 1 cup freekeh (see headnote)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 medium tomatoes (about 3 pounds total), each cut into 8 wedges, juices reserved
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons za'atar, plus more for sprinkling (see headnote)


Combine the freekeh, boiling water and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for about 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add all the tomatoes and toss to coat. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then add the garlic and serrano pepper, if using. Cook without stirring for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have softened; you can shake the wok or pan a little to promote even cooking.

Transfer the tomatoes to the freekeh. Add the reserved tomato juice and the za'atar, stirring to incorporate. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the feta and sprinkle with za'atar. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

From Vered Guttman, Washington caterer and food blogger for

Tested by Vered Guttman.

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