A Grain Glossary continued...
Amaranth is a tiny grain native to Mexico. It's one of the few whole grains that contain all of the essential amino acids, making it an ideal source of protein. Choose it as a hot cereal, add to soups as a thickener, or use as a flour in pancakes and quick breads.
Buckwheat isn't actually a wheat, but a fruit seed in the rhubarb family. It's quick-cooking, gluten-free, and a good source of fiber and magnesium. Most familiar to Americans in the form of buckwheat pancakes, it's a grain with global popularity, found in everything from Japanese soba noodles to Russian porridge.
Bulgur cooks so quickly (in less than 15 minutes) because it has been boiled, dried, and cracked before reaching the supermarket. Perfect for fast side dishes and salads-and the main ingredient in tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern dish-bulgur has a mild flavor that makes it a great starter grain for kids (and husbands) who are picky eaters. Cracked wheat, often confused with bulgur, is actually raw wheat kernels that have been cracked to speed the cooking process.
Farro (emmer wheat), nicknamed the Pharaoh's wheat, was a culinary cornerstone of ancient Egyptian and Roman menus. It gradually fell out of favor because it was low-yield and difficult to hull. Now grown primarily in Italy, where it's known as farro, this nutty-flavored grain is undergoing a resurgence as a gourmet grain. Try it in soups, or use as an alternative to Arborio rice in risotto.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH), grown in the South American Andes since 3,000 BC, is a nutrient-dense supergrain. Mild and slightly sweet, quinoa needs to be rinsed thoroughly prior to cooking in order to remove its bitter-tasting coating. A complete protein, it cooks in less than 15 minutes and can substitute for rice in most dishes.
Wheat berries are actually whole kernels of wheat. When processed to remove the bran and the germ, then ground into powder, they become white flour. If they are unprocessed, they're a whole grain. Chewy, with a hint of nuttiness, the kernels are versatile add-ins to salads, soups, and side dishes. Wheat berries need at least an hour to cook, although that time can be reduced if they've been soaked overnight.