Top row from left: Farro, buckwheat, teff. Middle: Millet, barley, bulgur. Bottom row: Wheat berries, kamut, black quinoa.Photograph by: Dave Sidaway, Postmedia News, Postmedia News.Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/guide+grains+learn+love/4488405/story.html#ixzz1HRnwUgp
Here's a glossary of grains that are available in supermarkets, health-food stores and specialty shops, and a few suggestions for how to cook them.
Technically not a grain, but a seed. Looks and taste: A small round seed from South America that comes in 100 varieties, coloured black, red and gold. Sweet and nutty, with a texture that is at once chewy and soft.
Cooking: Rinse before cooking to remove the slightly bitter coating, then cook one part quinoa to two parts water. Ready in 15 to 20 minutes, or when skin separates from the seed.
Serving: Great hot or cold, in salads and soups.
The Italian name for emmer, a 10,000-year-old member of the wheat family popular in the Mediterranean.
Looks and taste: Reddish-brown kernels shaped like rice. When cooked, they have a nutty, slightly sweet flavour and a hearty, chewy texture.
Cooking: For quick cooking, look for a variety labelled hulled, shelled or pearled, which means it has had some of the outer coating removed. It will cook in 20 minutes or so. Toast before cooking to deepen flavour.
Serving: Nice with roasted vegetables, or simmered into a creamy risotto with Parmesan and mushrooms.
Many people get their barley quotient in beer, or in turkey barley soup the day after Christmas.
Looks and taste: Pale, small beads. There's the more common "pearl/ed" barley, which means the hull and bran have been removed. Pearl barley cooks faster. Another variety is hulled or "pot" barley, which has had its outer layer removed, with the bran layer left intact.
Cooking: Pearl barley is ready in 30 to 40 minutes; pot barley can take up to 1 1/2 hours.
Serving: Thickens soups and stews, but also makes a nice pilaf.
The smallest grain in the world. .
Looks and taste: Tiny chocolatebrown or red seeds like grains of sand. Tastes like hazelnut and cocoa.
Cooking: Rinse and drain in a very fine sieve, then cook like polenta (three parts water to one part teff) until water is absorbed.
Serving: Can be ground and incorporated into cookies or muffins (replace one-quarter of the flour with teff). It can also be boiled, sweetened and eaten with fruit for breakfast.
Best known here as birdseed, millet is a staple in Asia and Africa.
Looks and taste: Tiny, round yellow beads with a mild buttery flavour.
Cooking: Rinse and drain, then toast in a heavy fry pan with a little olive oil. Add three parts hot water or broth to one part millet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes.
Serving: As a side dish with spicy or savoury dishes. Great cooked into hot cereals -just add a tablespoon or two when you are cooking your oatmeal.
Tiny gold seeds, these aren't technically grains. Mexicans grind them with sugar into alegria, or "happiness."
Looks and taste: Golden colour, granular texture. Crunchy amaranth has a distinctive peppery kick.
Cooking: You can boil it into a porridge or grind it with a mortar and pestle and add to pancakes or muffins. To cook, boil one part amaranth in 2 1/2 to three parts water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Do not overcook.
Serving: Gives a crunchy kick to cornbread. Boiled with grated ginger, it makes a nice hot breakfast; sweeten with honey and sprinkle with fruit.
Bulgur and wheat berries
Both are whole-grain wheat, only bulgur has been parboiled, dried and cracked. Bulgur is a staple in the Middle East, best known as a component of tabbouleh.
Looks and taste: Bead-like wheat berries are available hulled and unhulled. Crunchy and nutty.
Available in textures from coarse to fine. Turkish bulgur is gold in colour and especially flavourful.
Cooking: Wheat berries labelled pearled, hulled or shelled will cook in less than an hour. Unhulled will require overnight soaking and can take upwards of two hours to cook. Just cover bulgur with equal parts boiling water, cover the pot and let stand 25 to 30 minutes, off the heat, then fluff with a fork.
Serving: Bulgur can be used in stuffings, pilafs or in salads along with parsley and chopped vegetables.
Wheat berries are nice boiled and then tossed with olive oil, green onions and herbs.
An ancient relative of durum wheat.
Looks and taste: Kamut looks like farro and spelt, reddish in colour with oversized kernels. It has a mild, nutty taste and a chewy texture.
Cooking: Soak overnight, then boil in plenty of water -one part kamut, four parts water -for 40 minutes.
Serving: Can be used hot or cold. Toss into soups, stews or vegetable stir-fries. Or mix with black beans, cilantro and hot pepper.
Roasted buckwheat groats (the word for grains that have been hulled) are called kasha, an old-time fave of Eastern Europeans.
Looks and taste: Buckwheat groats are round and brown-red in colour.
Cooking: Best toasted before cooking to deepen flavour. Before boiling, kasha is sometimes dry-fried with an egg to prevent it from becoming mushy. Cook 1 cup (250 mL) buckwheat with 2 cups (500 mL) chicken or vegetable stock for about 15 minutes, being careful not to overcook.
Serving: With bow-tie pasta, or as a stuffing for cabbage rolls.