Two things about whole grains: first, people get so wrapped up in their healthfulness that they forget that grains are richly delicious, subtle, and complicated as well. And, second, not everything that calls itself “whole grain” measures up to the label.
‘Grain Mains – 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day’ (Rodale, 2012) by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, doesn’t make those mistakes.
The recipes are a sophisticated introduction to whole grains, and include a broad cross-section of meals and foods – baked goods, cereals, salads, burgers, soups and stews, main dishes and sides. And this is not prissy, self-righteous whole grain food, it’s voluptuous food for people who love food and enjoy eating. Grain Mains is also a practical guide to understanding the nature of whole grain ingredients and how to use them.
Resist the urge to skip the introduction and head straight for the photos of the whole-grain burger oozing cheese. Besides the predictable overview of the book, it includes useful information about the how-and-why of cooking grains (crucial to getting the flavor and texture just right), and a glossary of the grains used in the book, describing each grain, its varieties and history, plus cooking notes and a list of the recipes using that particular grain. It’s indispensible for understanding less familiar grains, and also includes some surprises regarding grains you thought you knew well.
The recipes are sorted into three sections. “Early,” includes the granola and muesli recipes you’d expect in addition to a wonderful Syrian Sliha, some hearty and welcoming porridge and hot cereals, plus pancakes, waffles and breakfast casseroles. “Cold” is a collection of wheat berry, rice and other whole grain salads, including stuffed tomatoes and a quinoa spring roll. “Warm’ features burgers, risottos, soups, stews, and casseroles.
Throughout, Weinstein and Scarbrough pair seasonings and ingredients in ways that beg to be tasted – Cinnamon-Raisin Barley Pudding, Farro with Nectarines and Pine Nuts, Teff Gnocchi in a Cheddar Sauce, Pumpkin Quinoa Souffle – for a fresh look at dishes and seasonings you love. It’s a book that makes you hungry.
It’s also worth noting that Grain Mains, although it designates vegan and vegetarian recipes, is not meat-free.
Weinstein and Scarbrough will demonstrate recipes from their book and lead a grain tasting at The San Francisco Cooking School, Monday, November 19, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Cost is $35 per person, and includes a copy of the book ($15 without the book). Reservations are required.
Grains for the Holidays and Beyond
Grain tastings and recipe demonstration from Grain Mains
with Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
- November 19, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
- $35 per person (includes book)
- Reservations required
- San Francisco Cooking School
- 690 Van Ness – San Francisco