How to Cook Grains

Basically grains are cooked like rice, which makes sense, since rice is a grain. Always rinse grains before putting them in boiling water or broth. Some grains, like quinoa, absorb their cooking liquid. Others, like farro, require more water so you have to drain it, like pasta. Cooking times vary from the brief 15 minutes or so it takes to cook a cup of quinoa to the hour-plus it takes for wheat berries to reach their chewy doneness.

Recipe: Halibut with Quinoa Salad

SERVES 4

4 6-oz. halibut fillets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups quinoa
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1/4 cup diced yellow squash
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup edamame, shelled
1 Tbsp. diced shallots
1 tsp. chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. favorite extra virgin olive oil to finish

Rinse the quinoa in cold water twice. Put the vegetable stock and quinoa in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and layout on a sheet pan to cool. 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an ovenproof pan, sear halibut in oil until golden brown on one side; flip and place in oven for 8–10 minutes or until done. 

Saute the zucchini and squash in 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the quinoa, shallots, garlic, edamame and tomatoes. Add a little more vegetable stock and heat it all through. Finish with a little of your favorite olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place the warm quinoa salad on the bottom of a shallow bowl. Place cooked halibut on top and season with your favorite olive oil.

"The best way to cook quinoa is similar to pasta. Bring water to a boil. Wash quinoa twice in cold water then add to boiling water. Don't salt the water while it cooks; the quinoa tends to get mushy if it soaks up the salt too early on. Wait to salt the quinoa at the end when seasoning."—Chef Eric May, Blue Boar Inn

Chef's Grains

Chef Dave Jones at Log Haven serves a grilled pork loin chop with pistachio quinoa, sweet onion puree, grilled stone fruit and a honey wine vinegar syrup.

Finca serves blood sausage with farro and mushrooms. Zucca sides its New York strip with seasonal mushroom farrotto—think risotto but using farro—and spinach.

Chef Erie May of Blue Boar Inn frequently features grains on his menu—amaranth, barley, quinoa and farro. "People are becoming more aware of quinoa," he says. "It is one of the newer super grains and is very healthy. The white and red colors are very impactful. I have featured a red quinoa cake in the past. It is definitely a lighter grain as compared to farro and wheat berry. I really like the texture of quinoa and how flexible it is to cook with. You can serve it hot or cold. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to heat it up with a little bit of vegetable stalk and add edamame, baby heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, squash and chopped herbs and finish by drizzling a nice olive oil on top."

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