Rice is Nice, but Super Grains Reign
Rice is Nice, but Super Grains ReignPosted by Korman Res | Rice is Nice, but Super Grains Reign
When someone mentions the word “grain”, what do you think of? Rice? Wheat? Corn? While it’s true that these are all grains, did you know that there are a number of other grains that pack great flavor and an even bigger nutritional punch? They are so nutritious, in fact, that they are commonly referred to as “super grains” (or sometimes, “ancient grains”). Some of these include: buckwheat, kamut, amaranth, millet, quinoa, spelt, and teff. What sets super grains apart is that they are lower on the glycemic index than most traditional grains, plus they are excellent sources of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some super grains are also gluten-free, which is a huge benefit to those with celiac disease/gluten sensitivity who follow a gluten-free diet. One of the best things about super grains is that they are just as easy to prepare as rice and are readily available in health food stores and the organic aisle of most supermarkets. Even if you’ve never heard of them before, why not broaden your horizons and give super grains a try? Your body and your taste buds will thank you.
The following are a few of our favorite super grains, plus a great recipe!
If you’ve never tried a super grain, quinoa is a great place to start. It’s a small grain (a seed, actually) about the size of bulgur, red or white in color, with a very delicate texture and flavor. Quinoa is gluten-free and is loaded with manganese, calcium and fiber. It is also a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Because it is such a versatile grain, quinoa can be prepared as a hot breakfast cereal or used in salads, soups, pilaf, and casseroles. Because quinoa is gluten-free, quinoa flour and quinoa pasta are excellent substitutes for wheat flour and wheat-based pasta. Although it is smaller in size, quinoa also makes a great substitute for rice or orzo in most recipes.
Kamut is a relative of wheat, with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. It is also known as “Khorasan wheat”. Kamut has earned the nickname, “the high energy wheat”, because it contains about 40% more protein than traditional wheat. In fact, a half-cup serving of cooked kamut contains more protein than an egg. It is also high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B and E. Kamut can be purchased as whole grain, flour, or baked into breads, cereal flakes, and pasta. However, whole grain kamut (or any whole grain, for that matter) contains the most nutrients. Kamut can be used in pilafs, soups, stews, and salads, and is a great substitute for brown rice.
Despite its name and similar size, buckwheat is not a relative of wheat at all. Like quinoa, buckwheat is the seed of a plant, so it is gluten-free. It is also a rich source of protein, fiber, and rutin, a powerful antioxidant. Whole buckwheat can be purchased as “groats”, which are hulled whole buckwheat kernels, or as “kasha”, which is toasted buckwheat groats. Kasha is consumed extensively throughout Eastern Europe where it is traditionally prepared as a hot breakfast cereal. Buckwheat can also be purchased as light-milled or dark-milled flour (dark-milled has a nuttier taste), which can be used to make buckwheat pancakes, bread and baked goods. “Soba” (buckwheat noodles) is a popular Japanese dish. Buckwheat groats and kasha make a great hot cereal, or can be used in any dish where you would use white or brown rice.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
(adapted from Bobby Flay’s Greek Quinoa Salad)
Makes 4 servings
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch Kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
3 pieces jarred roasted red bell peppers, diced
1 small red onion, diced
½ yellow bell pepper, diced
½ English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
¼ cup Feta cheese, crumbled (or more, to taste)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil and whisk until well combined. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the salad.
Rinse quinoa in a strainer until the water runs clear (this is an important step). Combine the quinoa and broth in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the broth is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
Transfer quinoa to a large bowl, fluff with a fork and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes to cool. Add tomatoes, roasted peppers, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, basil and dressing, and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 8 hours before serving. The flavor gets better the longer it sits.
Sprinkle with feta and give the salad another toss right before serving. Enjoy!