Ancient grains are both fashionable and healthy! Yes, quinoa, farro and amaranth are trendy whole grains finding their way onto the menus of upscale restaurants and into the homes of health conscious consumers.
Hmm, fashionable, you say? What will jumping on the whole grain bandwagon get you? Increased fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Furthermore, that increase intake of fiber is associated with a reduced incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Wow, in-style and health benefits to boot! But preparing grains with names many are not sure how to pronounce, must be difficult, right? No, not at all. I recently attended a cooking class at the Country Club of Landfall where Sous Chef, Jessica Tantalo, demonstrated how easy it was to prepare them.
Jessica explained that quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is prepared like rice. Use a 2:1 ratio of water to grain; bring to boil; reduce heat; and simmer about 13 minutes. Really, it’s that easy.
But then what do you do with it? She had several suggestions. First she prepared a cold quinao dish suitable for breakfast with inca red quinoa, pineapple, toasted almonds, orange juice, orange zest, green apple, mint and honey. Delicious.
I think this dish would be a great way to introduce quinao to children by layering it with low fat yogurt and making a breakfast parfait!
Jessica also suggested using quinao as the base for a stir fry. She made a Tex Mex quinoa by heating soybean oil in fry pan, adding cumin, chilli powder, salt and pepper, black beans, canned diced tomatoes and cooked white quinoa. She finished the dish with fresh cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.
This delicious dish will soon be served at my house for a meatless Monday dinner.
Farro (pronounced FARH-oh) the second whole grain featured during this class, cooks more like pasta, Jessica explained. Use a 3:1 ratio of liquid to grain. Boil; reduce heat; simmer for 15-50 minutes; and drain off excess liquid. Jessica made a beautiful cold salad with farro, garlic, parsley, watercress, pine nuts, olive oil and yellow cherry tomatoes.
In my opinion, this salad is screaming “spring” and would be a great accompaniment to piece of grilled fish or chicken.
Finally, Jessica prepared Amaranth (pronounced AM-ah-ranth). This grain is prepared using the 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain. However, it was the longest cooking grain, about 40 minutes.
Now, do you feel more inclined to try one of these grains? Which will you try? What will you add?
Diane Boyd, M.B.A., R.D., L.D.N.