Quinoa, kamut, red rice, amaranth, millet – whole grains are the hot trend right now. You may not know how to pronounce some of them, let alone cook them. But a whole new world of interesting starches awaits you if you can be the tiniest bit adventurous.
It really is as simple as buying something that sounds interesting to you and following the cooking directions. With a little jazzing up, of course. If you are used to white rice and white bread, you may want to start with a mild grain like white quinoa. You could also buy a rice medley, which will have a variety of rices, and will usually include some white rice.
You don’t have to break the bank to buy whole grains. Check the bulk bins at your grocery store. You can also buy boxed grains and mixes, but skip the ones added flavorings. They are usually mostly salt. Just the grains, ma’am. You will add your own flavorings and tailor them to your tastes.
Generally, the easiest, and most common way to cook these lovely grains is to boil them in water, until they absorb the water and are soft – like you would cook white rice. Some bulk bins have nearby informational charts, complete with cooking instructions, or even free recipe cards. Or you can look up cooking instructions online. You want to know how much water you need. And how much of your particular grain constitutes a serving. Some of them swell up to fill the pot and if you cook too much you will be eating it for a week. Trust me.
Of course, plain water can be pretty boring. I like to use broth to cook the grains, usually chicken or vegetable. I use Better than Boullion or canned broth most of the time. And I usually chop a clove or two of garlic and throw it in too. Or a shallot or small onion. If you are in the mood to chop, you could add some minced celery and carrot too. You won’t need salt if you use broth, but a little black pepper or a few red pepper flakes will add a bit of zing.
Have you cooked any “exotic” or new-to-you grains? Which are your favorites?