Traditional recipes

Freekeh with Basil-Cilantro Pesto and Grilled Pineapple Skewers

Freekeh with Basil-Cilantro Pesto and Grilled Pineapple Skewers

Do you still have bad dreams about forgetting your locker combination on the first day of school? Or your class schedule? I do. Sometimes, in my dreams, the campus turns into a giant maze and I can’t get from one place to another without encountering obstacles everywhere along the way.

I have similarly bad dreams about waiting tables. I can’t make it to the computer to input my orders and wake up shouting, “SIDE SALAD!”

Such was the case with this recipe. After two semi-successful recipe tests, I made one more trip to the store to stock up for the finale. I ambitiously filled my basket with produce for future photo shoots and headed home to take Cookie on a walk.

Shortly thereafter, my back started aching. An hour later, chills. I dragged myself to bed with an extra blanket and woke up the next morning in a feverish, mummified state. Recipe testing was put on hold for a day while I slept on the couch with my four-legged nurse.

Strangely, and rather miraculously, I was almost cured by the next day. But, I was out of basil. I hopped into my car to go to the store again. My car wouldn’t start. (I forgot to turn off an interior light after my last grocery store visit, apparently.) “No problem, I’ll just hop on my bicycle,” I thought. My tires were flat. Foiled once again!

The universe has been playing tricks on me this week. Thanks to a solid immune system and a helpful friend, I’m finally back in business and pleased to say that this final recipe is a success. You just can’t go wrong with warm whole grains tossed with bright, bold pesto, topped with sweet and savory grilled vegetables and fruit.

I’m slathering pesto on just about everything this summer and for that, I am not sorry. I chose to slather it on freekeh this time. Freekeh is an ancient strain of wheat that is remarkably high in fiber and other goodness. I love freekeh because it cooks up in twenty-five minutes and has a lovely couscous-like texture. I went into more detail about it in this Israel-inspired roasted cauliflower dish last fall, if you’d like to check that out.

Bob’s Red Mill is my go-to source for freekeh. Their organic freekeh is available online and in some stores. Let’s all start requesting freekeh at our local grocery stores so they stock up! If you can’t find freekeh or need a gluten-free alternative, I think quinoa would be a terrific substitute. Farro would be nice, too, if you don’t need it to be gluten-free. All you have to do is cook your whole grain of choice according to package directions and stir in the pesto. Ta da!

Freekeh with Basil-Cilantro Pesto and Grilled Pineapple Skewers

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree

Warm freekeh tossed with bold basil-cilantro pesto, served with grilled pineapple and bell pepper skewers. This simple dish is full of flavor and so good for you! If you can’t find freekeh, cook another whole grain (like farro or quinoa) to package directions, then toss with the pesto. Recipe yields 4 servings.



Freekeh and skewers

  • 1 ¼ cups freekeh
  • 2 cups cubed fresh pineapple (about 1 small pineapple, sliced into 1-inch chunks)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into about 1-inch square pieces
  • 1 small red onion, both ends chopped off and then sliced into wedges no wider than the bell pepper pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional but recommended: ½ cup crumbled feta cheese, for garnishing (omit for vegan/dairy free meal)

Basil-Cilantro Pesto

  • ⅓ cup raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro (or more basil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 medium lime, juiced)
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. If you’ll be using wooden skewers, soak 8 skewers in water for 20 minutes prior to grilling. I used these stainless steel skewers instead.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, bring 2 ¾ cups water to boil. Add the freekeh, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the water is mostly absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let the freekeh rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Combine the prepared pineapple, bell pepper and onion in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until the pieces are lightly coated in oil, then thread them onto your skewers, alternating as you go. You should have enough for 8 skewers.
  4. Place each skewer on the grill. Cook, turning 90 degrees once the underside has developed good grill lines, until marked and tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer the skewers to a cooked platter once they’re done.
  5. To prepare the pesto, first toast the pepitas in a small skillet over medium low-heat until they are fragrant and making little popping noises, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer them to the bowl of a small food processor or blender. Add the basil and cilantro, garlic, lime juice and salt. Put on the lid and process until the herbs are finely chopped, then scrape down the sides. Process again as you drizzle in the olive oil and continue processing until the mixture is well blended.
  6. Stir the pesto into the cooked freekeh and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the freekeh into 4 bowls and top with crumbled feta, if you’d like. Serve with 2 skewers each.


Pesto adapted from my cilantro-pepita pesto.
Make it gluten free: Substitute quinoa for the freekeh (you’ll need to use twice as much water as quinoa and adjust the cooking time, see directions here.)

▸ Nutrition Information

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!

Watch the video: Caprese Salad Skewers with Pesto u0026 Bacon Tomato Basil Skewers (January 2022).