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Go for the Grain

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by Anna Thomas
from Fine Cooking #109, p. 48-55

Grains are my thing. I love them in any guise—from the dense, chewy rye breads of my Polish childhood, to the buttery, big-as-aprons buckwheat crêpes I’ve eaten while walking the streets of France. There’s hardly a whole grain I’m not partial to.

But I know that’s not the case for most people. Sure, everyone knows wheat, corn, and oats, but what about amaranth or farro? Ever try teff? These utterly delicious grains and others, like quinoa and millet, can be found at many supermarkets, in health food stores, and online. They’re easy to cook, tasty, and good for you. They also keep for months, so they’re great pantry staples.

To start, try making polenta with millet instead of corn—the Romans cooked millet that way for centuries, and its mild, sweet flavor just loves butter and cheese. Or add delicately crunchy quinoa to a salad for an interesting play on texture and flavor. A savory vegetable tart is rich and nutty, thanks to a crust made with teff flour. Farro, a type of wheat, turns a typical pilaf into a chewy, satisfying side dish, while amaranth flour gives hearty griddlecakes a peppery kick (and a nutritional boost).

Getting to know these five grains will be a delicious discovery, and—if you’re anything like me—they’ll soon have a permanent spot in your pantry.

Quinoa
quinoa   Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, and Gouda
Learn more about quinoa   Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, and Gouda
Amaranth
 Amaranth   Corn and Amaranth Griddlecakes with Spicy Black Beans
Learn more about amaranth   Corn and Amaranth Griddlecakes with Spicy Black Beans
Teff
 teff   Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato, and Feta Tart in a Teff Crust
Learn more about teff   Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato, and Feta Tart in a Teff Crust
Farro
farro   Farro and Beluga Lentil Pilaf with Ginger and Cilantro
Learn more about farro   Farro and Beluga Lentil Pilaf with Ginger and Cilantro
Millet
 millet   Millet and Cheddar Polenta with Roasted Vegetables
Learn more about millet   Millet and Cheddar Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

 

Photos: Scott Phillips

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  • User avater
    sbreckenridge | 02/10/2011

    Hi Leisureguy,
    You are correct that quinoa and amaranth aren't technically grains (teff actually is, as well as millet and farro). However, as you note, this is a food magazine, and we approach these ingredients from a culinary perspective, not a botanical one. They all have similar treatments in the kitchen and play a role akin to grains on the plate, whether they're cooked whole or ground into flour.

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