Ancient Grains

How do I cook with that?

For Many People, The Term “Ancient Grains” Conjures Up The Imagery Of Hardship:
mills and grindstones and brow sweat and open flame. And yes, they may be a bit more complicated than their
more modern counterparts, but the time it takes to figure them out is well worth your while. They tote myriad
health benefits, including high levels of protein, fiber, and other nutrients and low levels of cholesterol and simple
sugars. And each one brings a different interesting taste, texture and surprise to the plate.
Cooking with these staples of civilizations past is made easy by modern technology and kitchen conveniences.
For all of them, you just have to follow the basic rule: combine the grain with the correct amount of water,
bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for the prescribed amount of time. When it’s done, it’s done.
Usually that means when it’s al dente, and all the water’s gone. Season, fluff with a fork and you’re good to go!
But since each grain is unique and comes with its own tricks, we’re going to embark on a bit of a cooking
crash-course to get you comfortable with the lot of them. Welcome to Ancient Grains 101.

  1. Millet
    A versatile grain that originated in
    Africa, millet is most often prepared
    simply and served like rice. Millet
    is gluten-free and will keep in the
    pantry for two months, or up to six
    months in the refrigerator or freezer.

    Cooking time:
    20-30 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 2.5 cups

    Recipes to try:
    toasted grain pilaf,
    millet paella, creamy millet grits

  2. Wheat Berries
    Wheat berries are the raw kernels
    of wheat that have been stripped
    of their inedible outermost hull.
    They are the least processed form
    of wheat and are naturally rich in
    pholate, calcium and other nutrients
    that are lost in refined flour
    products.

    Cooking time:
    90-120 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 3 cups

    Recipes to try:
    wheat berry stuffed
    squash,
    wheat berry
    asparagus salad, wheat berry
    pudding

  3. Amaranth
    Amaranth was a dietary staple and
    an important aspect of religious
    ritual for the Aztec people prior to
    colonization. Actually not a grain,
    amaranth is a highly nutritious,
    gluten-free seed with a fiber
    content triple that of wheat. Besides
    boiling amaranth, you can also pop
    it like corn over high heat.

    Cooking time:
    20-25 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 2.5-3 cups

    Recipes to try:
    lentil and
    amaranth fritters,
    amaranth
    “polent,” amaranth yogurt
    parfait

  4. Farro
    Farro is the Italian name for an
    ancient strain of hard wheat from
    the Fertile Crescent. It comes in
    pearled and semi-pearled options.
    Choose semi-pearled if you want
    more of the nutrient-rich bran
    intact.

    Cooking time:
    20-40 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 2 cups

    Recipes to try:
    farro risotto,
    kale and farro salad,
    savory breakfast
    farro with leeks and eggs

  5. Spelt
    Spelt is a more nutritionally dense
    cousin of wheat and was one of
    the first grains ever to be used
    for bread. It’s particularly hearthealthy
    with cholesterol-reducing
    fiber and high levels of niacin.
    Despite containing less gluten and
    being more easily digestible than
    wheat, it’s still unsuitable for those
    with a gluten intolerance.

    Cooking time:
    90 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 3.5 cups

    Recipes to try:
    mushroom and spelt soup,
    carrot and spelt salad
    with cumin, vanilla spelt porridge

  6. Quinoa
    Quinoa is not actually a grain at all,
    but the seed of a broadleaf plant
    related to beets, spinach and Swiss
    chard. The Ancient Incas thrived
    on it in the Andes for thousands
    of years before modern cultivation
    took over. Available in brown, red
    and black varieties, quinoa has the
    highest protein content of any grain,
    containing all essential amino acids.

    Cooking time:
    15-20 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 2 cups

    Recipes to try:
    red lentil and
    quinoa soup,
    black bean and
    quinoa tacos, chicken and
    veggie quinoa skillet

  7. Kamut
    Kamut is a brand name for an
    ancient, recently revived strain of
    wheat known as Khorasan wheat. It
    was rediscovered in Egypt in 1949,
    but its true origins remain unknown.
    Kamut’s larger kernels have a sweet,
    almost buttery flavor, most likely due
    to its relatively rich fatty acid profile
    and high protein content.

    Cooking time:
    60 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 3 cups

    Recipes to try:
    kamut tabbouleh,
    kamut pilaf, baked zucchini filled
    with kamut and olives

  8. Sorghum
    Until recently, sorghum was primarily
    grown as feed for livestock in the U.S.
    But in the rest of the world, especially
    Africa, sorghum has long been used to
    make porridge, flour and beer. Rich in
    dietary fiber and gluten-free, it has a
    nutty, slightly sweet taste and is about
    the size of Israeli couscous.

    Cooking time:
    60 minutes

    Liquid per cup of grain: 3 cups

    Recipes to try:
    spiced butternut
    squash sorghum salad,
    sorghum
    risotto, Mexican flavors
    sorghum bowl