All About Grains
Amaranth [AM-ah-ranth] was a principle food of the Aztecs. It has a slightly peppery, molasses-like flavor with a faint nuttiness. The grains (or seeds) are tiny, shiny, and can be yellow and black. They’re so small that they seem almost lost when served alone as a side dish. But amaranth is good as a thickener in soups because, when cooked, it has a slightly gummy texture, like okra. Try amaranth flour, along with wheat berries, in Wheat Berry Bread.
Beef, Beer, and Barley Stew
You can use barley groats rather than pearl barley in this stew to give the dish a little more texture. Substitute rutabagas, parsnips, or other root vegetables of your choice for the carrots and turnips.
Bulgur and Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Refrigerating the meat mixture makes it easier to handle and helps the meatballs hold their shape. You can use fine or medium bulgur in this recipe. Serve with rice.
Grano with Mushrooms and Greens
Grano is the polished form of durum wheat, so its flavor is similar to that of pasta. You may substitute pearled barley.
Kamut and Spelt
Kamut [kah-MOOT] is a primitive high-protein variety of wheat and takes its name from the ancient Egyptian word for wheat. Kamut berries are about twice the size of, but similar in flavor and texture to, wheat berries. Substitute kamut for wheat berries, and buy kamut flour to use in place of or alongside wheat flour. Spelt, another primitive form of wheat similar to kamut, has become fashionable among restaurant chefs. Both kamut and spelt contain a more digestible form of gluten than that found in wheat, so people with an intolerance to wheat are often able to eat these grains.
Oats are most widely available in rolled form. Steel-cut oats are cracked whole grain oats; when cooked, they are chewy. They’re also called Irish oatmeal. A good source of fiber, 1/2 cup of steel-cut oats has 7.5 grams. You may also see oat groats or whole grain oats.
Quinoa [KEEN-wah] tastes wonderful and has a nice crunch. It’s a good alternative to rice because of its lightness. Make more than enough because the leftovers are so useful. (Try it for breakfast with maple syrup and milk, add it to pancake and muffin batter, or mix it with potatoes for croquettes.) The tiny beige-colored seeds, about the size of pellets of couscous, cook in about 20 minutes. The only special handling required with quinoa is to give it a good rinse before cooking; otherwise, the grains can be bitter. A good source of protein and fiber, 1/2 cup of quinoa has 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.
Rye Berry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Make this salad with any whole grain, including wheat berries or barley. Vary the chopped vegetables too, if you like. But don't change one iota of the simply luscious vinaigrette made with orange juice and champagne vinegar; it makes this salad burst with flavor.
Wheat Berry Bread
This Wheat Berry Bread makes a hearty sandwich bread. Cooked wheat berries add texture, and the wheat bran gives the surface a nice rustic finish. The recipe makes two loaves, so you can freeze one for later.