Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grains as a Side--The Formula

In most meals I am able to incorporate grains into the main dish. However, on occasion I need the grain to stand alone, like here with my simple preparation of salmon (Costco's vacuum packed Wild Alaskan Salmon). Inspired by True Foods Kitchen's Farro and Fig side dish, I came up with a formula to follow that allows for variety in matching a specific dish, your specific taste and the kitchen's specific supply.

Start off by sauteing a grain (I chose 2 that cook similarly, black quinoa being mostly for looks). I have divided the grains I cook with into 3 groups for easy reference. The long cooking grains generally cook like brown rice...pressure on high 15 minutes, 2.5 cups water to 1 cup grain OR simmer 45 minutes, 3 cups water to 1 cup grain. The short cooking grains generally cook like white rice...pressure on high 7 minutes 2 cups water to 1 cup grain OR simmer 20 minutes, 2.5 cups water to 1 cup grain. The other grains listed will be covered in a later post and are cooked by other methods then stated in these general categories. When combining grains you MUST choose 2 from the same cooking time category OR cook one through first and add it into the finished product.

Long cooking grains:
Brown rice

Short cooking grains:
Hulled buckwheat
Pearled barley
Steel cut oats

Alternate methods/non cooking grains:
Flax seed

Second, choose a liquid. I am a fan of chicken stock, I always have plenty on hand, it is flavorful and healthy. You could choose water, potato water, juice, vegetable broth, beef stock or any combination.

Third, choose a dried fruit. This is optional of coarse, but the added sweetness is nice. You could choose dried fruit because it holds up well when cooking. You could choose cranberries, cherries, figs, dates, apricots, apples, pears, raisins...

Next the veggies or aromatics if you will. Just enough to give an extra level of flavor (this hardly counts as a serving of vegetables.) You could choose onions, celery, carrots, peppers, even olives, sun dried tomatoes or peas. While you are at it choose an herb. Fresh can be added at the end, while dried should be added with the vegetables.

Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don't (but I never feel like an Almond Joy or Mounds.) So there you have it all my mad scientists - THE FORMULA - have at it! Don't worry, I included a recipe to get you started.

1 tablespoons butter
1 cup millet
2 tablespoons black quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
5 dried pear halves
1 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoon pine nuts
handful parsley

Sautee millet in butter 3 minutes. Pressure 5 minutes on high with quinoa, water, pears and stock. Quick release. Sautee onions and pepper, add to cooker. Pressure 2 minutes on high, Garnish with pine nuts and parsley.


  1. I love this info!!!!! Thanks-Cindy

  2. I have a question about brown rice, I'm looking to buy it in bulk and hoping to grind it to add to my baking flour (in small portions, of course), but there are so many kinds! Brown Basmati, brown long grain, brown short grain, sweet brown. Does it change the flour depending on the kind? What works best? Is one more nutritious than the others? Thanks so much!

  3. It is totally your personal preference. Jasmine and basmati are aromatic. Short grain and sweet are stickier, long is more separate. which doesn't really mater when it comes to flour.


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