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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Great Grains

Here's the problem.  I buy a bag of one grain or another for a recipe, and before I know it I have three or four bags of good for you grains languishing on the shelf in my pantry.  Space is at a premium in there, so I have to find something to do with them besides just that original recipe.  That's not too hard, since we currently live in a world obsessed with whole grains.  Recipes are aplenty.

Finding really good recipes is the hitch.  Most of the recipes I've come across focus far more on the healthiness than on the tastefulness.  In other words, they're a little on the bland side.  If I'm going to cook with whole grains, they better taste good.

The other day I was skimming through my Williams Sonoma Autumn cookbook and came across this recipe for Mixed Grain Pilaf with Cranberries and Pine Nuts.  It sounded good, and as I was surrounded by bags of barley, farro, quinoa, and millet, it was definitely worth a try.

The original recipe called for basmati, amaranth, quinoa, and millet.  I had the basmati, quinoa, and millet, but didn't have any amaranth.  Since the point of this little experiment was the use up, I wasn't going to shoot over to Whole Foods to pick up a bag of amaranth.  So I had to play around with what I had on hand.

In place of the amaranth, I used pearl barley and in place of part of the basmati I went with some farro.  If this was going to be a mixed grain pilaf, I was going to go all out and really mix it up.

I know you're all probably wondering why I didn't use brown rice in place of the basmati.  Well... First of all, it takes longer to cook than the other grains, and second (and far more importantly), I don't really like brown rice.  Okay, I said it.  I don't like brown rice.  Call the Whole Grain Police on me.

Great grains!

Recipe:  Mixed-Grain Pilaf with Cranberries and Pine Nuts
(Adapted from Williams Sonoma Autumn, by Joanne Weir, 1997)


1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup millet
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet


In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the rice, farro, barley, quinoa, and millet and stir until the grains are hot and coated with the oil, 1-2 minutes.  Raise the heat to high and add the cranberries, salt, and pepper to taste, stock and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the grains are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Add the pine nuts and fluff with a fork to mix.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Serves 6

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