Saturday, February 28, 2015

Adaptable Whole Grain Recipe for Lunch or Dinner

Here's a recipe for an entree or salad based on whole grains with healthy doses of veggies that can easily be adapted to use your preferred or on-hand ingredients. Customize to match your health goals, taste preferences, the changing season, or make it gluten-free - make it yours! Please your palate and stretch your culinary skills. Using recipes that teach us how to cook and use what's on hand have the important bonus of increasing our kitchen efficiency and decreasing food waste (good for our planet and our pocketbooks)!

I prefer my grains chewy and al dente, requiring less cooking time. Others might prefer their grains cooked with more water for a little longer to make them softer and less toothsome. Cook times vary so taste your grains until they are as tender as you like. If they’re too tough, add more water if needed and continue cooking; if they’re done before the liquid is all absorbed, drain away the excess. To decrease cooking time, increase nutrient availability, and improve digestibility, you can presoak your grains in their cooking liquid for a few hours or overnight, then add more liquid if needed before cooking.

3 cups cooked whole grain of your choice or whole wheat pasta (see below for cooking instructions)
¼ cup chopped, fresh basil, parsley or other herbs
1 cup chopped fresh tomato, or other fresh or roasted vegetables
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion, shallot or green onion
1-3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2-3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar or other vinegar or lemon juice
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or other finishing oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, or other nuts
sea salt 
freshly ground pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy warm as an entrée or side dish, or allow to cool and serve as a salad. Makes 4-6 servings. It will keep beautifully in the refrigerator and travels well; this is a good one to keep around for packed lunches, a picnic or potluck.

Serve on a bed of sautéed greens, fresh greens sliced into thin ribbons or fresh lettuce.
Add a cup cooked garbanzo or other beans or lentils.
Add ½ pound tempeh, cubed small and baked in a tablespoon each of olive oil, tamari, and balsamic vinegar.

Flavor Combos to Try
bulgur + cucumber + mint + dill + lemon juice + red onion + romaine lettuce

wild rice + roasted winter squash + pepitas + aged Balsamic vinegar + lacinato kale

penne + roasted romanesco cauliflower + garbanzo beans + pine nuts

Kamut + beets + parsley + sunflower seeds + shallot + red wine vinegar + mixed greens

farro + tomato + artichoke + olives + parsley + red onion + balsamic vinegar + spinach

buckwheat soba noodle + cilantro + mint + carrots + sugar snap peas + green onion + rice vinegar + toasted sesame oil + peanut + crushed red pepper + bok choy

Cooking Whole Grains Cheat Sheet (adapted from the Whole Grains Council)
For about 3 cups of cooked grains:
Add water or broth:
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for:
Amaranth, 1½  cup
2¾ cups
20-25 minutes
Barley, hulled, 1 cup
3 cups
45-60 minutes
Berries (rye, spelt, or wheat), 1 cup
3 cups
Soak overnight; cook 45-60 minutes
Brown rice, ¾ cup
1½ cups
35-45 minutes, depending on the variety
Buckwheat groats, ¾ cup
1½ cups
20 minutes
Bulgur, 1 cup
1½ cups
10-12 minutes
Couscous, 1 cup
2 cups
Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes
Farro, 1 cup
2 cups
25-40 minutes
khorasan wheat (Kamut), 1 cup
4 cups
Soak overnight; cook 45-60 minutes
Millet, 1 cup
25-35 minutes
Oat groats, 1 cup
2½ cups
40-45 minutes
Quinoa, 1 cup
1 ½ cups
12-15 minutes
Wild rice, ¾ cup
2 cups
45-55 minutes or until tender