Thursday, June 10, 2010


If you’re looking for something different to serve up at dinner, take with you to work for lunch, or even to steal a couple of bites from at snack time (that’s delicious and nutritious, of course), whole grains can really add a new dimension of flavor to your typical lineup. A great source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, whole grains can be an excellent substitute for any white rice dish or even a pasta dish. Their subtle, nutty flavors and wholesome textures can add a fantastic element to any meal.

At first glance, the world of grains might be a little overwhelming. There are many different varieties, ranging from quinoa to wheat berries, and cooking times that can send some running in the opposite direction. Who has time to babysit a pot these days? The truth is, we often forget how important taking the time to cook a well-rounded meal for our families is and, too often, end up forsaking quality for convenience. Thankfully, many companies now offer premixed packages of whole grains, such as Rice Select’s Royal Blend or Kashi’s 7-Grain Pilaf. If you’re new to the world of grains, this is an excellent time to experiment. Over at 101 Cookbooks, über-chic natural chef Heidi Swanson has put together a list of some of her favorite grains, and, frankly, I agree with her choices.

The start of my love affair with whole grains began more with my mother than my father, although my father really refined the recipes. Farro, if you’ve never heard of it, is an ancient grain that is used in many Mediterranean — and, more specifically in our case, Italian — dishes. It has a hearty, earthy flavor, although it must be slow cooked in order to achieve its full potential. It can be used in stews to create heartwarming winter dishes or served cold with freshly grilled vegetables as a light, refreshing summer salad.

Looking to experiment with farro this weekend? Check out Heidi Swanson’s Farro & Herbs recipe before heading over to your local Italian market!

Buon Appetito!


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