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!