Ancient grains or everything old is new again…

I’m a big fan of rice. Any kind of rice. And of pasta. Any kind of pasta. But over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to change up my addiction with grains that are a little healthier. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to tell you about some of my experiments with what I like to call the other grains. I’ll try out spelt, barley, wild rice (which isn’t actually rice at all), quinoa (I have made a terrific quinoa salad which you’ll see soon), and bulgur. I won’t try out polenta, mostly because there was a season or two  when I lived in Toronto that polenta was on every single plate and I got tired of it. I see it’s coming back, but probably not in my house.

I’m going to start with my favorite alternative grain. Couscous. I LOVE couscous. It’s easy to cook, has a lovely nutty flavor, and is jam-packed with protein and fibre. I buy the organic whole wheat couscous (same price as regular and you can buy it almost anywhere) and 1/4 cup of it has 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fibre. Almost every week I make a big pot of it, add vegetables, and voila! I can use it either as a side dish or a main course, and it lasts for two or three days. In fact, I brought it to have for lunch today.

Kate’s couscous and vegetables

Ancient grains

Ancient grains

Cook the couscous as per the directions. It’s very fast, boil the water, add the couscous, let sit for five minutes, fluff with a fork. I add extra light olive oil and salt to the water, then, when cook and fluffed, I add a little Becel and pepper. You might want to add other spices, but I find couscous doesn’t need much.

I take whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, slice them into bite size pieces, and cook them in the microwave. The more vegetables, the better. The version you see above has asparagus, zucchini, red peppers and celery. I often use broccoli as well. For me, it’s often about the color combination rather than specific vegetables, but you can literally use anything.

If you want more protein, it’s great with tuna or chicken or beef or just about any kind of fish. In fact, couscous is great with any kind of protein. For me, I’d go with tuna, chicken or a white fish, mostly because the lovely delicate flavor of the couscous might be overwhelmed by the stronger flavors of beef or lamb.

I think I might try wild rice next. I’ll keep you posted.

Kate

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