A recent article on the food website Zester Daily stated it perfectly: It’s about time we stop talking about whole grains for their health benefits and start talking about them for their deliciousness. And I couldn’t agree more. Ever since my friend and former colleague Tricia Bateman brought a fabulous salad made with wheat berries, tomatoes, corn (oh, OK, and smoked mozzarella) to a work potluck, I’ve been hooked on cooked whole grains, particularly as a base for hearty salads. And we’re not talking about the quote-unquote whole grains that show up in processed foods like boxed cereal and packaged baked goods.
My eating and blogging plan for the new year includes researching and experimenting with recipes featuring whole grains—farro and quinoa (both favorites of mine), wild rice, brown rice, bulgur, barley and the like.
Why have these wonderful grains caught my attention? They’re healthful, sure (their whole nature reserves their innate nutrients, as compared to refined grains like white rice). And whole grains are an inexpensive source of protein, an alternative to beans for those who are trying to eat less meat. For me, the shining glory of whole grains is taste. From the nutty flavor of farro to the fluffy texture of quinoa, whole grains bring real magic to a dish. Even better, they pair with just about everything and every cuisine, so you can create an Italian-inspired dish with farro or a Mediterranean-flavored dish with bulgur.
In short … I’ve fallen in love with whole grains. Apparently, I’m not alone: I’ll be taking a class with Dandelion Chef this week that’s focused on grains. And an article on SFgate.com spotlights whole grains as a basis for a range of flavorful salads.
This week, I’ll share a fantastic recipe for farro with roasted butternut squash, zucchini and balsamic vinegar. Next week, I’ll be experimenting to re-create a salad I recently enjoyed at a local restaurant, which features wild rice, apple, chicken, greens and a creamy basil dressing. And we’ll move on from there … I want to explore making risotto with farro or with brown rice instead of Arborio, making more hearty salads and so on.
Are you with me? Stay tuned for some fantastic, healthy, delicious whole grain recipes coming soon, and check out the related recipes below to get started cooking with whole grain now. (clockwise below: bulgur, wild rice, quinoa, farro)