I have two secrets to share with you:
1. Single grains are good, but a combination of grains are great. By mixing several different grains together, you can achieve a dish that provides complete nutrition, plus great texture and flavor. A simple place to start is making half white and half brown rice. Then move on to white and brown rice with some barley or wheat berries mixed in. Or make quinoa, wheat berries and barley all together. I use these combos for Spanish rice in tacos and enchiladas; for filler in stuffed peppers, under a stir fry, or anywhere I might otherwise use white rice.
2. The key to cooking lots of different grains for a single dish is to use a rice steamer. I cook all my grains: rice, quinoa, barley, millett, wheat berries and more, in my rice steamer, using all the same proportion of 1 cup of grain to 1 3/8 cups of water. I base this proportion on the instructions from the rice steamer. It has never failed me.
Now you know all about making your grains, so you need a recipe to put that knowledge to use. Here’s a little something I once threw together on the last day before grocery shopping. I had odds and ends and no plan. The outcome was delicious and it got better as it chilled in the fridge. Steve and the girls gobbled it up. I made it again this past weekend. It’s just as good this time around.
- 2 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 1/4 cup millett
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup barley
- 1/4 cup wheat berries
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp coconut or olive oil
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, well washed
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1 cup of packed spinach leaves, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 pound of asparagus, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 1 cup corn niblets (fresh or frozen)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-16 ounce can of beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney beans, but any bean will work)
- 1 cup veggie broth
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp minced parsley
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1. Start by putting all the water, grains and salt into the rice steamer and get it cooking. If you don’t have a steamer, cook the grains separately, according to package instructions.**
- 2. While the grains are steaming, put a saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the leeks.
- 3. Saute for about 8 minutes, stirring every couple minutes along the way.
- 4. When the leeks are wilted, add the onion and spinach and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the spinach is cooked down and the leeks have started to brown just a bit.
- 5. Transfer the leeks and spinach to a large bowl.
- 6. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the asparagus and saute gently, until the pieces are tender and fragrant.
- 7. Transfer the asparagus to the large bowl and saute the corn and garlic, for a couple minutes, until the garlic is softened. Add the corn to the large bowl.
- 8. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.
- 9. Toss the dressing, cooked grains, and beans with the veggies. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. Garnish with chopped nuts for added texture and flavor.
- 10. This salad keeps 4-5 days in the fridge and gets better each day. Yum!
- **If you don't have a rice cooker, and the idea of cooking up a bunch of different grains, in separate pots, is overwhelming, you can pair down the variety. Just increase the amount of whichever ones you use. The salad will still be delish, even if it’s made just with rice.