Food & Cooking

A Simple To Cooking With Cooking With Rice, Beans, and Grains

A diet rich in rice, beans, and grains is healthful because these foods are naturally low in fat and high in fiber. They offer enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to sustain our bodies. And they come in so many different varieties, flavors, and textures that they can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without provoking boredom. This book contains 366 different recipes, suited for every occasion, from snack time to formal dinner parties, from soup to dessert, from slow-cooked to nearly instant.

The key to incorporating more grains and beans into your diet is to have them available in the house for cooking. That means shopping at your local natural food store, where just about every ingredient mentioned in this cookbook can be found. While many supermarkets are responding to a consumer demand for more grains and beans, they are mostly offering pre-seasoned, precooked mixes. The fact of the matter is that for all the great size of American supermarkets, these shopping emporiums are dedicated to prepared foods. Supermarkets in this country rarely supply all the basics for a diet heavily oriented toward rice, beans, and grains. you can't find cornmeal in your local supermarket, except in the form of corn muffin mixes. Forget about finding a nice medium grind for polenta. Quinoa? Never heard of it. Adzuki beans? Forget it!

Fortunately, almost every city in this country now boasts a natural food store or food co-op where the ingredients used in this book can be found. Because natural food stores cater to a clientele who frequently cook rice, beans, and grains, their food tends to be fresher than that you might find at an all-purpose supermarket. Beans, in particular, are better when fresh, though they will keep for years.

Here is some basic information about rice, beans, and grains, including buying and cooking instructions.


1. All About Rice

More than a third of the world's population eats rice as their staple food. Even in the West, where wheat is considered the primary grain, most children begin their diet of solid foods with rice cereal, which is parboiled white rice that has been dried and ground into flakes that readily mix with warm milk. This is only one of the many different processes our rice may be subjected to, which includes enriching, popping, parboiling, and grinding into flour.
When rice is harvested, the grains are usually cleaned and dried. They are then milled to remove the dust and chaff as well as the husk. 

To make white rice, the remaining bran layer is stripped away. The bran layer is left intact for both brown and black rice.

There's plenty of evidence to suggest that rice cultivation dates back at least thirty-five hundred years, but hunters and gatherers may have been coltecting wild rice grains as early as eighty-five hundred years ago. Rice cultivation spread from northeast India and northern Thailand throughout Asia and on to the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Europe. A ship bound for England blew off course to South Carolina in the seventeenth century and the grateful captain gave the governor of that colony barrels of rice, marking the beginning of rice cultivation in the Colonies. Today rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica, and there are between twenty-five hundred and forty thousand different varieties (depending on who is doing the counting).

These myriad varieties evolved in different climates and became part of different cooking traditions. In the New World, where long-grain rice grows well, we have Cajun Jambalaya, Cuban Rice and Beans, and Hoppin' John, all of which require a rice that cooks up fluffy, with well-separated grains. The starchy medium-grain rices from the Piedmont and Lombardy regions of Italy are cooked to creamy perfection in risottos, while the medium-grain rice of Valencia, Spain, gave rise to the paella for which Spain is renowned. Cooked medium-grain rice is not as dry as long-grain rice, nor as sticky as short-grain rice. Short-grain rice is preferred in many parts of Asia and is crucial to such specialties as Japanese sushi.

Any well-conceived natural food store will sell several different kinds of rice. There is a lot of variety in tastes, textures, and ideal cooking methods, so when a recipe specifies a certain kind of rice, you should make every attempt to find it. Here are some types of rice you are likely to encounter.

Glossary of Rice
Creating a list of rice types makes order out of a fairly disorderly situation. Rice may be known by its appearance, its cooking characteristics, or its brand name. For example, at your food co-op, the only short-grain rice for sale is labeled "sushi" rice.
Before the bran layer is removed, most rice is brown in color. Brown rice can be found in long-, medium-, and short-grain varieties. Brown rice has a nutty flavor and chewy texture and requires a longer cooking time (about 40 minutes) than white rice. It has twice the fiber of white rice (which isn't much: .5 g per cup of cooked rice) and is slightly more nutritious; it is slightly richer in protein, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Long-Grain Rice
Long-grain rice cooks up fairly dry with separate grains, which is why it is the rice of choice for most pilafs. Many of the most flavorful of the long-grain rices, such as basmati and jasmine, are known as aromatic rice because of their pronounced toasted nut or popcorn-like flavor and aroma. When you are planning to serve plain rice, without a sauce or strong seasonings, aromatic rices are a good choice. Look for both brown and white aromatic rices. Some popular types or brands of aromatic rice include Texmati, Jasmati, Wild Pecan, Popcorn, and Wehani.

Basmati Rice. Basmati translates as "something fragrant" in Hindi and this is the most well-known and appreciated of the aromatic rices. A special-occasion rice in India and Pakistan, where it is grown and aged, basmati has a spicy, flowery aroma and characteristically cooks up dry and fluffy. As it cooks, the rice kernels lengthen, in contrast to other varieties in which the rice kernels swell in width. Calmati and Texmati are American-grown rices with similar characteristics. Brown basmati rice is commonly available at natural food stores.

Black Rice. There are several different types of exotically colored blackish purple rice from Southeast Asia; the most common are Thai sweet black rice and Japonica rice. The long dark grains color the cooking water, which becomes lavender. The flavor of the cooked purple-black grains is like a cross between basmati and wild rice. The rice's sticky nature makes it ideal for desserts, and in Southeast Asia it is often cooked in coconut milk. Cook black rice as you would any long-grain brown rice, allowing about 40 minutes cooking time.

Jasmine Rice. An aromatic long-grain rice, jasmine is sometimes called Thai fragrant rice. It is fragrantly sweet and nutty in flavor like basmati rice, but it is moister when cooked and somewhat sticky in texture.
Wehani Rice. Wehani is a brand of aromatic brown rice grown in California and marketed by Lundberg Family Farm. Its mahogany color promises a highly usual rice, but the flavor is undistinguished from other aromatic brown rices. It is available in bulk at natural food stores, as well as in expensive little boxes at supermarkets and specialty food stores.

Medium-Grain Rice
Medium-grain rices fall in between long-grain and short-grain rices in size and stickiness. The Italian rices used to make risotto, as well as certain Spanish varieties, such as Valencia, which is used to make paella, are all medium-grain rices.
Arborio Rice. The most commonly available of the medium-grain rices from Italy, Arborio grains are short and almost round. As this rice cooks, it releases starch into the cooking liquid to give it a creamy consistency, a characteristic that makes it an ideal rice for risottos and puddings.

Short-Grain Rice
Although all short-grain rices are stickier in texture that long-grain rices, they are not the same as "sticky" rice. The Japanese often prefer short-grain rice, which is easier to pick up with chopsticks, while most Chinese prefer a drier, longer grain rice. Cook as you would long-grain rice, using slightly less water.
Sticky Rice. Also known as glutinous rice, waxy rice, or sweet rice, sticky rice does have a sticky texture, but it is not sweet. Short-grain sticky rice becomes soft and gelatinous when cooked. Sticky rice is never served plain, but has many uses in Asia where it is grown.

Wild Rice
A native American grain that is related to rice, wild rice is not a rice at all, but an aquatic grass, and these days the wild rice for sale is more likely to be cultivated than wild. It cooks up firm and chewy with a grassy, almost bitter flavor.

Buying and Storing Rice
More and more space is being given over to rice at the supermarket these days, but most of this is given over to boxes of preseasoned rice mixes. you have yet to try a preseasoned rice mix that matched what you make at home. And you won't even mention costs.
You are likely to find the best rice selection at a natural food store, where you can buy in bulk, often with a choice between organic and nonorganic. At home be sure to label your storage containers. Although your nose will be able to distinguish certain aromatic rices, it is surprising how similar in appearance arborio and certain short-grain Japanese rice can look, especially when you have one and not the other on hand for comparison.
Uncooked white rice and wild rice can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for an indefinite period of time without losing flavor or nutrients. Brown rice and other rices that have their bran layer intact contain oils that can go rancid, so it is best to store these rices in the refrigerator after a month. Rice will dry out over time, so you may have to slightly increase the amount of cooking water you use with rice that has been sitting for more than a year in the pantry.
Cooked rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, as long as it is in a tightly sealed container. Cooked rice can even be frozen for 6 to 8 months. Reheat leftover rice in a microwave or on top of the stove, adding a few tablespoons of water as needed.

Cooking Rice
Advice for cooking rice varies widely—and it is always delivered with the gravest authority. It is assumed that there is such a thing as "perfect rice, every time" and only one true way to achieve it. Rinse first. Never rinse. Boil. Steam. Never microwave. No wonder your mother served only instant rice when you was growing up!
The general rule that 1 cup of rice requires 2 cups of cooking liquid results in soggy, clumpy rice more often than not. you think 1 cup long-grain rice requires about 1¾ cups water. Many people find that it works to place the (long-grain) rice in the pot and fill with water about 1 inch (or one knuckle length) above the rice. Short-grain rice requires less water (about 1½ cups per cup of rice). Given that there are so many different varieties of rice, it is important to adjust your water-to-rice ratio as needed.
It's also important to cook the rice at a gentle boil. If the water bubbles furiously, the rice will cook too quickly, leaving a hard center in the core of each grain. If it cooks too slowly, the rice will be gummy.

Rinsing Rice
Rinsing is a very controversial step in the cooking of rice. White rice that is grown and milled in the United States is usually enriched with a spray coating of vitamins. Rinsing does wash away these vitamins and perhaps some of the water-soluble vitamins in unenriched rice as well. Some writers claim that rinsing dates back to a time when rice was likely to be dirty and mixed with impurities and that today, thanks to modern milling practices, it is no longer necessary.

Rinse long-grain white rice. you have a decided preference for fluffy, almost dry rice in pilafs, stir-fries, and most recipes that call for long-grain rice, and you find rinsing helps me to achieve that fluffy consistency. The rice cooks more quickly and absorbs less water when it has been rinsed first. Rather than rinse away flavor as some writers claim, the rinsing process causes the rice to absorb less liquid, which enhances the flavor. Rinsing is never recommended for short-grain or medium-grain rice that will be made into risottos or puddings, where you want a soft, sticky texture. you don't find rinsing helpful for brown rices.

To rinse rice, place the rice in a sieve over a bowl. Run cold tap water into the rice, stirring with a spoon or rice paddle, until the rinse water runs clear. Then drain the rice well before proceeding with the recipe.

To Salt or Not to Salt
Salt if desired for flavor. Leftovers are more versatile when they aren't salted because they present a completely blank slate. Also, some types of brown rice, particularly Wehani rice, cook better in unsalted water. And finally, when cooking rice in broth, salt is almost never necessary, as most broths are preseasoned with it.

A Rest Period
The flavor and texture of most rices—and most grains, for that matter—is improved with a brief rest after cooking. When all the liquid has been absorbed and the grain is tender, fluff the rice with a fork. Dry the pot lid, then crumple a clean cotton kitchen towel or paper towel and lay it on top of the rice. Cover with the dried pot lid and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving. The towel prevents condensation from forming on the lid of the pot and "raining" back down on the rice.

Cooking Methods
How you cook your rice will definitely affect its taste and texture. Rice cookers generally allow you to cook with less liquid than most stovetop methods. Boiling rice in plenty of water can yield excellent results in terms of texture, but causes the rice to lose flavor.

Electric Rice Cookers
If "perfect rice, every time" is your goal, you highly recommend the purchase of a rice cooker. Nothing could be simpler. You combine the rice and water in the correct proportions, flip a switch, and you have perfectly cooked rice in 20 to 30 minutes. Most rice cookers have a "keep warm" function that keeps the rice at a good serving temperature for up to four hours. The ease with which rice cookers work—no more split-second timing required—and the excellent results they yield could make a convert out of you. There are very few modern households in Asia that do not have a rice cooker in the kitchen—which should tell you something about how well this appliance works.
When purchasing a rice cooker, look for one with a nonstick pan (or plan to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray before each use).
A proportion of 1 cup long-grain white rice to 1¾ cups water generally gives good results in a rice cooker. A proportion of 1 cup brown rice to 2¼ cups water will also yield good results. If you find that the brown rice is still a little too firm after all the liquid has been absorbed, add a few tablespoons of water and start cooking again. The machine will shut off when the additional water has been absorbed.

Steamed Rice
This rice is technically boiled, but it is usually called "steamed rice." Combine the cooking liquid with the rice in a covered saucepan and stir gently. Cover and bring to a rapid boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes for white rice, about 40 minutes for brown rice. Do not stir. When all the liquid has been absorbed and the grain is tender, fluff the rice with a fork. Then let the rice rest for 5 minutes, as directed above.

Baked Rice
Baked rice is actually a variation of steamed rice. Combine the rice and cooking liquid in a flameproof Dutch oven or casserole, cover, and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Transfer the dish, still covered, to a preheated 400 degree oven and bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 15 to 18 minutes for white rice, 40 to 45 minutes for brown rice. The advantage to this method is that it is very forgiving if you leave the rice in the oven too long. Rice cooked on the stove will stick to the bottom of the pan if it is forgotten; rice cooked in the oven will merely dry out a little.

Free Boiled Rice
Some people like to cook rice like pasta, in plenty of boiling water, until it is done. you think the rice loses flavor with this method, but if you'd like to try it, bring at least 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup white rice and boil until the rice is tender, about 12 minutes. Timing is critical, so taste frequently after 10 minutes. Drain well. Some chefs like to parboil the rice this way, then finish it later with flavored liquids and herbs, and this works well.

Flavored Rice and Pilafs
When rice is first sautéed in hot oil and then cooked in broth or water flavored with herbs or spices, the rice comes out highly flavored, with each grain separate. The dish is usually called a pilaf or pilau. The proportion of rice to liquid is the same as for steamed rice.
Use both homemade and canned broths or stocks in your pilaf. You will find recipes for vegetable, mushroom, and chicken broths in Chapter 3, and these can be used in many recipes. you have taste-tested a lot of canned vegetable and chicken broths as well as dry bouillon mixes and have found only one satisfactory national brand of vegetarian broth for pilafs: Westrae Natural UnChicken Broth. In most commercial vegetarian products usually one flavor—carrot or tomato—dominates. you think Campbell's Healthy Request Chicken Broth also is an excellent product for both soups and pilafs, and you always have a few cans on hand for the sake of convenience. you urge you to conduct your own taste-tests to find a broth you consider acceptable.

Like pilaf, risotto starts with rice that is sautéed in hot butter or oil and the cooking liquid is usually a flavored broth. But here the similarity ends. With a risotto the broth is added slowly and the rice grains are constantly stirred to achieve a creamy consistency. A risotto generates its own sauce. Depending on the amount of liquid added, a risotto can be rather dry or very soupy, but it should never be undercooked so that there is a hard core to each grain. Neither should it be overcooked; each grain should be separate, suspended in a creamy sauce, not soft and mushy.

2. All About Beans

Beans—or rather, legumes—are a part of every known cuisine and have been eaten for at least eight thousand years. They grow in an incredibly wide range of climates, from the cold mountain plateaus of Peru (where lima beans originated) to the hot, humid tropics (where pigeon peas were first cultivated). With more than seventy varieties of beans currently enjoyed worldwide, it is no surprise that there are so many classic bean dishes. They include Boston Baked Beans and South Carolina's Hoppin' John, Spanish black bean soup, Italian pasta e fagioli, Indian dahl, Mexican retried beans, Middle Eastern hummus, French lentil salad, and so much more.

The broad category of "beans" includes peas and lentils, though botani cally these are legumes, as are beans. When we say "beans," we are including all legumes. The Europeans call this category of food "pulses," from the ancient Roman word puls, which means pottage, Whatever you call legumes, when you eat them you are consuming high-protein vegetables that are cholesterol-free and high in vitamin B, minerals (iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium), and soluble fiber. A cup of cooked kidney beans, for example, supplies 219 calories, 16 grams of protein, and less than a gram of fat.

Beans are often enjoyed green, when the pods are still tender enough to eat and the seed, or bean, within the pod is undeveloped. These are called snap beans because the pods crack crisply in two when broken. They haven't had strings since 1894, when stringless varieties were introduced and universally adopted. A green bean has more vitamins A and C but much less protein than a dried bean. A bean that is left to grow for about nine to eleven weeks becomes a shell bean, at which stage the pods are tough and inedible, but the beans in the pod can be enjoyed after a brief cooking period. At the dry bean stage (twelve to fourteen weeks after planting), the beans are dry and ready to be stored.

Beans may have been the inspiration for the development of the art of cooking, since all beans and lentils, whether fresh or dried, will cause abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea if eaten raw. (With green beans, the beans are not developed; you are eating the pod not the bean, which is why it also has a different nutritional profile.) Boiling beans for 2 to 3 minutes destroys the toxic lectins that cause all of these problems.

Glossary of Beans
The legume family has five main branches.
Lentils are the oldest cultivated legume; they were domesticated around the same time as wheat and barley, some eight thousand years ago. They originated in Southwest Asia, probably Syria, and spread throughout the Middle East. The pea is also a legume and includes sweet peas and split peas, but not chickpeas, which belong to a family of their own, or black-eyed peas, which are related to mung beans. Fava beans, or broad beans, originated in Europe. Mung beans and soy beans originated in Asia. The lima bean and the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) are both New World beans. The so-called "common bean" is a huge family of beans that includes kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and dozens more.
Beans are a great study in how foods move around the world. Today China produces about seventy percent of the international fava bean crop, while the U.S. is the leading producer of soybeans, most of which are fed to livestock. Africa is the major producer of lima beans. Here is a glossary of the most commonly found beans, with descriptions, cooking times, and name variations.
Adzuki Beans (also known as Azuki, Aduki, Asuki)
Adzuki beans are popular in Asia, where they are called "the king of beans." They are small, oval, red beans with a thin white ridge line (which distinguishes them from small red beans). Adzuki beans are served in both sweet and savory dishes. In Japan, the cooking water from red beans is used to color rice in a festive wedding dish. But, more commonly, the beans are made into a sweetened paste and used as a filling for pastries and confections.
Adzuki beans have a tough skin and should always be presoaked before cooking. Then boil gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Adzuki beans can be found canned.
Black Beans (also known as Turtle, Frijoles Negros, Mexican Black, Spanish Black)
Black beans are central to the cooking of Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Cuban black bean soup and Moors and Christians (black beans and white rice) are just two of the favorite ways these rich-tasting beans are served. Black beans have a sweet but nutty flavor and a soft creamy texture. The beans have an affinity for chiles, cilantro, and goat cheese. They make an interesting change of pace when substituted for pinto beans in such Mexican or Tex-Mex favorites as refried beans, burritos, and chili.
Gently boil presoaked black beans for about 1 hour. The color of the beans will fade a little. Black beans are readily found canned.
Black-eyed Peas (also known as Brown-eyed Peas, Cow Peas, Southern Peas, Crowder Peas, Black-eyed Suzies)
Black-eyed pea is the most apt name for this cream-colored, kidney-shaped bean with a dark purple circle on its ridge. This native of China (and relative of the mung bean) probably traveled the Silk Route to the Middle East and then to Africa. From there, black-eyed peas were carried by slaves to the New World and established as part of the plantation diet. Black-eyed peas have a buttery texture and mild pea-like flavor. They cook relatively quickly, in 30 to 45 minutes if presoaked. Check frequently when cooking these beans as overcooking causes them to disintegrate. Black-eyed peas are available canned and frozen as well as dried.
Cannellini Beans (also known as White Kidney, Haricot Blancs, Fasiolia, Fagioli)
Popular in the cooking of Italy, France, and Greece, these white, plump, medium-size, oval beans have a slightly nutty, sweet flavor. Their smooth, creamy texture makes them an excellent choice for soups and purees. Cannellini beans are available canned, but the texture is considerably softer than most other canned beans.
Gently boil presoaked cannellini beans for about 45 minutes or until tender and slightly creamy.
Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzos, Ceci)
Chickpeas look like little hazelnuts, though the ancient Romans who gave the beans their name thought they looked like rams' heads. They are one of the most distinctively flavored beans—nutty and chestnutty are two adjectives commonly used to describe their flavor. Chickpeas have a firm texture and hold their shape well with cooking. Even overcooking does little damage to this bean. Of all the canned beans, canned chickpeas hold their shape best.
Gently boil presoaked chickpeas for about 2 hours. If the beans are old, they will take considerably longer to cook. Chickpeas will foam up at the start of the cooking and the foam should be skimmed off. Chickpeas are used extensively in the cooking of the Mediterranean, Middle East, North Africa, and India.
Cranberry Beans (also known as Romans, Barlotti, Shellouts, Shelly)
When cranberry beans are available fresh, connoisseurs eagerly seek them out. The fresh beans are identified by beautiful cream-colored pods with wine-colored marbling. The flavor of these beans is quite delicate, even sweet. This is the traditional bean used for succotash in New England; in the Midwest it is traditionally cooked with sweet spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon.
Dried cranberry beans, which look like a slightly plumper version of the pinto bean, have a rich, sweet flavor and a creamy texture that makes them a great bean for soups and pasta dishes.
Cook fresh shelled cranberry beans for about 20 minutes. Cook the presoaked dried beans for about 1 hour.
Fava Beans (also known as Broad, Horse, Windsor)
Broad beans were commonplace in colonial American gardens, but they disappeared from American tables until recently, when Mediterranean cooking became popular and they were reintroduced as fava beans. Look for the very large, bright green, fuzzy pods in late spring. Inside each pod is a ¾-inch bean that resembles a large lima. You will need 2 pounds in the shell to get 1½ cups cooked shelled beans. Unless the pods are harvested when the beans are very young, you will have to remove a tough outer skin from each cooked bean. This is easily done by slicing into the skin with a sharp knife and popping out the bean. The job goes quickly, but you do have to handle each bean. Is it worth the work? If you like the taste of fresh shell beans, you will probably consider fava beans to be the best-tasting of all. Some people say fresh favas taste more like fresh peas than like other shell beans.
Dried fava beans range in color from beige to tan. The skins are often wrinkled and tough and so the beans are best enjoyed pureed. Gently boil the presoaked dried beans for 35 to 40 minutes. The smaller Egyptian favas will cook in 40 to 60 minutes.
The oldest known cultivated legume, lentils were mentioned in the Old Testament, when Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage. Lentils play an important role in the diet in India, the Middle East, and Africa. In France, lentils are a common bistro offering.
Lentils vary widely in color, taste, and texture. French green lentils, or lentilles du Puy, have a light fresh flavor and a nice firm texture that makes them the only lentil suited for salads. They tend to cost more than other lentils, but are well worth it. Brown lentils, which are actually greenish in color, have a rich flavor but disintegrate readily, making them a good soup candidate. Red lentils, which are really orange, pair beautifully with yellow-hued curry spices and make a nice smooth puree. Cook lentils for about 20 minutes for salads, and 30 to 40 minutes for most other dishes, depending on whether you want the lentils to hold their shape at all.
Lima Beans (also known as Butter, Burma, Christmas, Madagascar, Rangoon, Curry, Pole)
Said to have originated in the high plains near Lima, the capital of Peru, these New World beans have a light buttery flavor and creamy, starchy texture. Two different beans share the same name: the large lima is about 1½ inches long, while the smaller (baby) lima is only about ½ inch long and originated in Mexico. Today limas are grown extensively in Africa
Fresh limas are available in the pod in late summer. Boil them for 10 to 12 minutes. Presoaked dried limas take about 60 minutes to cook and are quite foamy. Limas are also available canned and frozen.
Mung Beans (also known as Green Grams, Black Grams)
These beans are most familiar to Americans in their sprouted form and are enjoyed in many Asian dishes. They are small, round green beans with a yellow interior. Sometimes the beans are sold hulled and split as moong dahl peas. Sprouted mung beans offer about 5 times the nutritive value of the dried beans.

To sprout, place 2 tablespoons mung beans in a quart jar and fill three-quarters full with lukewarm tap water. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or fine mesh and secure the fabric with a rubber band. Shake the jar a few times, then drain. Fill with fresh water and leave to soak overnight. The next day, drain the beans, rinse well, and drain again. Place the jar on its side and store in a warm, dark place. Repeat the rinsing process for 3 to 5 days, until the sprouts are about 2 inches long.
Pink Beans
Small pink versions of the red kidney bean can sometime be found dried or canned. Pink beans can be used interchangeably with pinto beans or small red beans. Cook the presoaked dried beans for about 50 minutes.
Pinto Beans (also known as Mexican Strawberries)
The favorite bean for many Mexican dishes, pinto beans have a meaty flavor and mealy texture. They are closely related to red kidney beans and can be used interchangeably with them when all that matters is taste and texture. With their speckled pink/tan appearance (the name derives from the Spanish word meaning "painted"), they look very similar to cranberry beans. When cooked, the mottled appearance disappears and the beans turn a uniform pink. Two recently developed hybrid versions of pinto beans, rattlesnake and appaloosa beans, are sometimes available.
Cook presoaked dried pinto beans for about 1 hour. Pintos are readily available canned.
Red Kidney Beans
This familiar bean lives up to its name: It is about ½ inch long, kidney-shaped, and ranges in color from deep reddish brown (almost purple) to light red. When cooked, these beans have a fairly mealy texture and meaty taste. Gently boil presoaked dried red kidney beans for about 1 hour, skimming off any foam that rises to the top of the cooking pot.
In the sixties and seventies, when many Americans started to embrace vegetarianism, it seemed that we would all have to get used to soybeans. These dried beans, which come in a multitude of colors, are easiest to find in the pea-size yellow form. They take 3 to 4 hours to cook. Although rich in protein, plain cooked soybeans have a strong—even unpleasant—earthy flavor. Fortunately, the good nutritional value of soybeans can be enjoyed in tofu and tempeh, ingredients that are outside the scope of this book. you have included one recipe for roasted soybeans , which makes an outstanding snack.
White Beans (also known as Haricots)
Many different varieties of white beans are used interchangeably in recipes. Great Northern beans are about ½ inch long, slightly flattened, and bright white in color. Yellow-eyed peas are white with an amber eye; they are frequently used in baked bean recipes, as are soldier beans, which have a reddish eye shaped like a soldier. Navy beans are small, plump white beans. Pea beans look like navy beans but are half as big. These beans are all available dried and some are also available canned. Presoaked soldier beans will cook in about 25 minutes; most other dried white beans take 60 to 90 minutes.

Buying and Storing Beans
Although beans will keep indefinitely, very old beans will become brittle and take forever to cook. So don't go out and buy a 25-pound sack of beans at a great price, unless you really eat a lot of beans. Stored at room temperature, dried beans will remain at good quality for up to 1 year.
Your best bet is to buy beans from a natural food store that has good turnover. If you aren't sure of your source, check for tiny holes in the beans, which are a sign of insect infestation. Look for plump dried beans and discard any that are discolored or shriveled. When you get the bea ns home, store them in airtight containers. Glass jars are ideal.
One pound raw beans (about 2½ cups) will yield about 5½ to 6½ cups cooked beans.
You can also buy canned beans, which are often softer in texture than home-cooked beans but can't be beat for convenience. When using canned beans, always rinse off and drain the canning liquid, which tends to be salty and gummy. A 15-ounce can of beans yields about 1½ cups. you have standardized many of your recipes so that you can use canned or freshly cooked beans interchangeably. Some companies pack their beans in 19-ounce cans, which yield just under 2 cups. Don't discard the extra beans. Use the whole can in the recipe; it won't hurt at all.
Cooked beans can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Presoaking Is Necessary Before Cooking
Most dried beans should be soaked in water for several hours (or overnight) before they are cooked. Yes, you can skip this step, but your cooking time will lengthen by at least an hour and you will have to nearly double the amount of cooking liquid required in the recipes. However, there is a quick-soak method that takes only an hour or two and is described below. Lentils and split peas do not require presoaking.
Before soaking the beans, first pick over and rinse them, discarding any foreign debris and shriveled beans. Then place the beans in a large pot or bowl. Cover with cold tap water. Make sure the beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water. Leave for at least 8 hours.
Quick-Soak Method. Put the rinsed and sorted beans in a pot. Cover with cold tap water by at least 3 inches. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 to 2 hours.

Cooking Dried Beans

To cook beans, drain off the presoaking liquid and start with fresh tap water. You can enhance the flavor of your beans by cooking them with aromatic vegetables, such as onions, garlic, celery, and herbs and spices. Do not cook the beans with acidic foods, such as tomatoes or wine; these will lengthen the cooking time and toughen the skin of the beans. It is a myth that adding salt will also significantly add to the cooking time. However, when salt is added to a large volume of liquid, the salt flavor concentrates as the liquid cooks down. It, therefore, makes more sense to me to salt to taste at the end of the cooking process.
Bring the beans to a boil. With some beans, the liquid will get quite foamy, and this foam should be skimmed off or it will leave a residue on the beans. Then reduce the heat and simmer. Boiling tends to cause the beans to break apart. Unless you am cooking the beans for soup or a puree, you partially cover the pot. This eliminates the risk of running out of cooking liquid but doesn't turn the beans to mush.
The beans should always be covered by the cooking liquid or they will not soften properly. If too much liquid is lost to evaporation (the beans boiled too vigorously, the lid was left off, the age of the beans required additional cooking time), add boiling hot water to cover the beans. Cold water will toughen the skin of the beans.
The cooking times in the recipes should be regarded as guidelines only; times will vary depending on age of the beans, size of the pot, and heat levels. So taste or squeeze a bean for doneness. The bean should be firm but tender throughout. Beans cook from the outside in, so be sure the core of the bean is not hard.
When the beans are done, immediately drain off the cooking liquid if the beans are to be used in a salad or another dish where a firm texture is desired. Otherwise, the beans will continue to cook slightly in the warm cooking liquid.

Pressure Cookers and Crockpots
Most cooks have an appliance or gadget that perfectly suits them and that they wouldn't dream of living without, while the rest of us get by quite well without it. That's how you feel about pressure cookers and crockpots—each does a fine job on beans, if you happen to already own one and have it in a handy spot.
In a pressure cooker, cook lentils and split peas at 15 pounds pressure for 7 minutes; cook medium-size beans, such as navy beans and black beans, for 15 minutes; and cook larger beans, such as chickpeas and kidney beans, for 25 to 35 minutes. If you are cooking a bean that gives up a lot of foam, such as chickpeas, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the cooking water to prevent the foam from clogging the steam release valve.
Between the time it takes to build the pressure up to 15 pounds, and the time it takes to cool off the pot before it can be opened, you didn't feel as though you was saving a significant amount of time. Plus it is easy to undercook or overcook the beans without knowing it until the pot is opened.
A slow cooker works well with beans. Follow the manufacturer's directions for timing. Over the long cooking time, certain flavors are lost, so add herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables during the last 30 to 40 minutes of cooking.

3. All About Grains

The very first crops cultivated by early farmers were probably grains. These grass plants had many virtues that attracted our ancestors (and continue to attract us). Grasses are extremely easy to grow, which made them rewarding for early farmers and keeps them reasonably inexpensive today. When grasses mature, their seeds contain significant amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The harvested seeds are quite dry, which means they store well. Grains are pretty simple to cook and offer variety in the diet, depending on whether they are left whole or ground into grits or flour.
Although our forebears were limited to the grains that grew well in their particular climate, we tend to look for more variety in our diets. Today we have a choice of at least eight different grains in many different forms. Here's a look at those that are readily available to us.

Glossary of Grains
Whole grains are sometimes called groats (as in oat or buckwheat) or berries (as in wheat berries). These are the seeds of the plant, with the outer hull removed. The grain may then be polished (if it is rice) or pearled (if it is barley). Whatever the name, this milling step removes most or all of the bran layer and the germ, leaving the endosperm, or kernel, whole. This results in a grain with a shortened cooking time. 
To speed cooking further, the grain may also be pressed flat to form flakes (as with wheat and barley) or rolled (as with oats). Or the grains may be cracked (as with wheat) or ground into grits (as with corn). They may even be popped (as with corn, millet, and amaranth). Corn has such a tough bran layer that to remove it the kernels are sometimes soaked in a lye or a limestone solution; this is how hominy is made.

Amaranth is an ancient grain that was cultivated by the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas. According to food historians, the Spanish conquistadors banned the growing of the grain because of its association with human sacrifice (a favorite preparation mixed it with human blood). Cortés ordered the burning of all of the amaranth fields between the Gulf of California and the Bay of Campeche, in effect destroying both a culture and an important food source.
Amaranth is currently enjoying new popularity, in part because it is unusually nutritious. Of all the grains, amaranth provides the most complete protein. It also contains significant levels of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Amaranth is also unusual in that it is perhaps the only grain that is grown in vegetable gardens for its delicate green leaves, which can be compared to spinach. Home gardeners, however, take note: Amaranth is closely related to an annoying weed called pigweed; once planted, amaranth has the potential for becoming a "volunteer" plant for many more years to come.
Amaranth grains are tiny, like mustard seeds. You can buy amaranth as a flour or in whole grain or popped form. When baked into a bread or cake (my favorite way to utilize this high-powered grain), the flour or popped grains add a toasted seed flavor. Popped amaranth can also be added to cereals, used as a topping for casseroles, or sprinkled on breads and rolls instead of poppy seeds. Although you have experimented with popping the grain in a dry skillet, you have never been satisfied with the results and prefer to buy commercially popped amaranth.
Boiled like rice on top of the stove, amaranth has a rather grassy flavor, not unlike spinach. 
To cook amaranth like rice, use 1 cup amaranth to 3 cups water. As amaranth cooks, the grains soften and swell. The resulting dish is gelatinous in texture—perhaps an acquired taste.

Barley is one of the most ancient of cultivated grains, tracing back at least to the Stone Age. It grows in a wide range of climates, from the Arctic to the equator. Until the sixteenth century, it was the staple grain of most of Europe. It is eaten as a whole grain, ground into flour, and brewed into beer. The cooked grain has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. It makes a delicious alternative to rice in pilafs and salads. Pearled barley can even be cooked as rice to make a creamy barley risotto.
Barley can be bought hulled, pearled, flaked, or unhulled. Hulled barley, which may also be called pot or Scotch barley, takes slightly longer to cook than pearled barley, but it is somewhat higher in fiber and vitamin B. Still, pearled barley is a nutritional bargain, rich in protein, vitamins, and potassium. Boil 1 part pearled or hulled barley to 3 parts salted water in a covered pot for 35 to 45 minutes. Both hulled barley and pearled barley can be simmered to tenderness in a long-cooking soup, which is your favorite way to enjoy this grain. Barley absorbs a lot of the liquid in a soup and acts as a thickener.
Unhulled barley should be presoaked overnight. Then cook 1 part grain in 4 parts water in a covered pot for about 60 minutes.
Rolled barley can be cooked like oatmeal (1 part rolled barley to 2 parts water), which is another one of your favorite barley preparations. Its sweet, toasty flavor is unlike oatmeal but just as satisfying. Rolled barley flakes can also be added to granola mixes.

Buckwheat is not truly a grain because the buckwheat plant is not a grass. The part of the plant we eat is actually a fruit, not a seed. However, in the kitchen, we treat buckwheat as a grain, enjoying the whole or ground groats as kasha and the flour in pancakes.
Buckwheat does not enjoy much of an ancient history. It originated in Central Asia and was spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages by invaders—either the Moors or the Tartars. Barley flour became very popular in Japan in soba noodles and in the U.S. for very hearty pancakes. In Eastern Europe, roasted buckwheat grits are enjoyed as kasha.
In this country, buckwheat is most often found as whole roasted groats (they may not be labeled as roasted but the heady aroma will confirm it) or ground roasted groats in fine, medium, or coarse grinds. Either way it may be labeled as "buckwheat," "buckwheat groats," or "kasha." The roasting gives this grain a rich toasted aroma and flavor. When you open a container of buckwheat, the kitchen fills with this appealing aroma.
Because buckwheat groats have a tendency to become mushy when cooked, it is a good idea to mix the groats with a beaten egg or egg white prior to cooking; the egg coating helps the grains separate. Gently boil 1 part buckwheat in 2 parts water or broth in a covered saucepan for about 15 minutes.

Corn began in the Americas as a wild grass, but it was intensely cultivated by Native Americans. At the time of the European exploration of the Americas, many different varieties of corn—or maize as it was called—existed. Maize comes from the Native American name for the grain. Corn was so closely associated with Native Americans that it came to be known as Indian corn, "corn" being an English word meaning the grain of any cereal crop. Eventually, the grain became known as corn in the U.S., although Europeans still refer to it as maize.
When Columbus returned from his exploration of Cuba he brought with him four bags of corn. This seed corn yielded very well when planted in European soil, and eventually spread throughout the continent. Italian cooks were the most intrigued with corn, which they made into a thick mush known as polenta. Meanwhile, American settlers came to depend on corn for their own sustenance and for the sustenance of their livestock. At that time, most of the corn was field corn, good for drying and grinding. Sweet corn was grown by Native Americans in New York State as early as 1779, but it wasn't commonly grown by the settlers until the mid-1800s. Popcorn is much older, by about eight thousand years. Native Americans believed that each kernel of popcorn contained a demon who exploded when exposed to heat.
Field corn is dried right in the fields, usually for animal fodder. As it dries, the kernels become dented at the top, hence its other name, dent corn. Besides feeding animals, field corn is processed into breakfast cereals, cornstarch, corn oils, and corn syrup. Flint (or Indian) corn comes in many different colors and may be ground into meal.
Today we enjoy corn in many forms. We eat sweet corn fresh or frozen (or even canned), on or off the cob. Popcorn is a special variety that is dried. Any type of corn may be dried and ground into meal. If it is ground very fine it will be called corn flour in the U.S. (cornflour in Great Britain refers to cornstarch). Any type of corn may also be treated with lime, which sweetens the kernels and causes them to swell and burst, to make hominy, or posole. Hominy is sold canned or dried. Hominy may be ground into grits or into a fine meal that is called masa harina and is used to make corn tortillas.
Cornmeal. Yellow, white, and even blue corn is ground into cornmeal. When the cornmeal is stone-ground, it retains some of the germ and hull, which boosts its nutritional content but makes it vulnerable to spoilage. When the cornmeal is steel-ground, the husk and germ are removed, lowering its nutritional content but increasing its shelf life; to compensate for the nutritional loss most steel-ground cornmeal is enriched with vitamins and minerals. you prefer the fresh flavor of the stone-ground cornmeal you get from your local co-op to any you have ever bought in a supermarket.
The grind can be fine (in which case it is probably called corn flour), medium, or coarse.
Polenta is the Italian name for cornmeal and also for the Italian dish made with it, which is basically cornmeal mush. You can buy polenta at specialty food stores, but this is no more and no less than stone-ground cornmeal. For polenta, your preference is a medium-grind cornmeal. you have found boxes of "corn grits" at your natural food store that declare its contents perfect for polenta. This is simply a coarse grind of cornmeal and it makes a very gritty polenta.
Hominy. If you've ever bought whole dried kernels of corn to grind your own cornmeal, then you know how tough the outer bran layer is. Native Americans used to boil whole kernel corn in a wood ash or lime solution to remove the hull. The boiling process causes the kernels to swell and become slightly sweet, with a distinctive, almost smoky flavor. The resulting product is called hominy.
Whole yellow or white hominy can be found dried or canned. Canned hominy is a perfectly acceptable and convenient product. Dried hominy, which must be soaked in water overnight and then simmered in water for about 3 hours, has more "corn" flavor. Either way, hominy is truly delicious and underutilized in many parts of the country.
In the Southwest, hominy may be called posole, which is also the name of a stew that is made with hominy.
Grits. Ground hominy is called grits. Very finely ground hominy is called masa harina and is used to make corn chips and corn tortillas.
In many ways grits are similar to polenta, sharing many common cooking methods. Grits, however, are "cornier" in flavor and grittier in texture. Grits can be served sweetened or with a little salt and butter. Like polenta, grits can be chilled, cut into slices or other shapes, then grilled or fried.
Grits are available in instant, quick-cooking, and regular forms. The instant version lacks flavor and texture, while the quick-cooking variety cooks only slightly faster than the regular kind. 
To cook regular grits, slowly add 1 part white or yellow grits to 3 parts boiling, salted water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring almost constantly as the mixture thickens.

Most Americans encounter millet as bird seed, and while that is a fine use for the grain, millet also belongs on the table. Indeed, millet is a staple grain for about a third of the world's population. In many parts of Asia, millet is a commonly grown alternative to rice.
Millet was probably first cultivated in the Neolithic era. Some scientists propose that the grain is even older than that, perhaps one of the grasses that sustained vegetarian dinosaurs. We know it was grown in China and India at least as far back as 2800 B.C. Like most grains, millet is rich in phosphorus, iron, calcium, B vitamins, and protein.
Hulled millet looks like small mustard seeds and is sold in most natural food stores. As the grains cook, they swell and burst. Millet has a bland, slightly sweet and nutty flavor that adapts to many different flavorings. Millet is sometimes sold puffed.
When you grind millet in your blender and use it in baked goods, it adds a crunchy texture and a toasty flavor. You can get the same effect from puffed millet, if you can find it.
Millet can be cooked like rice. Combine 1 part millet to 2½ parts water and gently boil in a covered saucepan for 25 to 30 minutes. Toasting the millet in a lightly oiled skillet before adding the liquid will enhance the flavor and reduce the stickiness of the grain. you have tried to make popped millet in a dry skillet, toasting the grains until they puff, but you have found (as with amaranth) that this method is not well suited to a home kitchen.

We make our acquaintance with oats early. It is cooked into the porridge we are served as children (oatmeal), baked into chewy cookies, and toasted to make granola. Interestingly, oats are one of the few grains that are rarely seen on the dinner table, except in the form of bread.
Oats thrive in cool, wet climates where wheat and barley do not. It is likely that the plant started as an unwanted weed. Although oats were probably gathered and eaten in Neolithic times, they were spread throughout Europe as animal feed. Only the poorest of the poor ate oats. In Scotland, where the damp climate was unsuited to wheat, oats became the staple grain, and today many oat recipes have Scottish origins.
Oats are promoted for being rich in soluble fiber, which can have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. They are also good sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, protein, and calcium.
Rolled oats, both "old-fashioned" and "quick," are readily available in most supermarkets and natural food stores. Rolled oats are oats that have been steamed and then flattened into flakes. Quick oats are rolled thinner over a heat source, which precooks the grain; this enables quick oats to cook fast, but some flavor and nutrition is lost in the process. Steel-cut oats, also called Irish oatmeal or Scotch oatmeal, are cut to speed cooking but are not rolled. They make a distinctively textured oatmeal that takes close to an hour to cook. You can both enhance the flavor and reduce the cooking time of steel-cut oats to about 20 minutes by first toasting the oats in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. The pretoasted oats can be stored for a few months in an airtight container and used as needed.
Oat bran can be added to baked goods. Its positive effect on lowering blood cholesterol levels is well documented. The bitter-tasting bran is best added with a light hand.

One cup of cooked quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is equivalent in calcium to 1 quart of milk. It is a complete protein and is high in iron. Now there are some good reasons to try this ancient grain!
Quinoa was the staple grain of the Incas. It grew well on the high mountain plains of Peru, sustaining life where little else would grow. Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador, envisioned a more European-style beef-based agricultural—and cultural—lifestyle in Peru. He banned the growing of this "mother grain" and imported Spanish livestock, vegetables, and barley to replace it. The vegetables could not grow in the harsh mountain climates, and the vegetarian Incas would not eat meat. Pizarro conducted regular raids on the mountainside to destroy any quinoa, but eventually ill-health caused him to remove himself and his army from Peru. Although quinoa agriculture was restored, yet another native culture was left seriously weakened by its contact with Europeans.
Technically quinoa is not a grain at all but the seeds of an herb. The tiny beads look like millet, except each seed seems to have a little eye. When cooked, this "eye," which is the seed's external germ, forms a tiny white squiggle, like a tail, at one end. Cooked quinoa expands to about 4 times its volume and has a delicate, slightly grassy flavor. Some cooks compare it to couscous.
Quinoa has a natural protective coating called saponin that protects it from insects and the radiation of the high-altitude sun. The saponin will give the grain a bitter flavor if it is not washed off before cooking. Although most processors take care of the washing, if you buy the grain in bulk, you can't be sure of how it has been handled.

To remove the saponin, place 1 cup quinoa in a blender with 2 cups water. Pulse the motor on and off a few times, until the water becomes cloudy. Strain off the water. Repeat with fresh water in the blender, until the water remains clear. Strain the quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer.

To cook quinoa, add 1 part quinoa to 2 parts hot liquid. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa is tender and looks translucent, about 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

It is rare that a day goes by when a Westerner doesn't consume wheat in one form or another. It is our staple crop, that which contributes the most bulk to our diet, our staff of life.
Wheat is an ancient grain, perhaps as old as barley. Some food historians believe that wheat was consumed in Iraq at least eighty-five hundred years ago. The Egyptians made the first yeasted wheat breads about six thousand years ago. As wheat cultivation spread across the world, some thirty thousand different varieties were developed. Some wheat is called "spring wheat" because it is planted in the spring; some is called "wiruter wheat" because it is planted in winter. A more important distinction is based on the gluten content of the grain. Hard wheat has the highest, and it is ground into bread flour; soft wheat flour is used for pastries. Hard durum wheat is used for pasta; it is ground into semolina flour or made into couscous.
Wheat flours sold in supermarkets are usually defined by their uses: cake, bread, or all-purpose (a mixture of hard and soft wheats). In natural food stores, we are also given the choice of wheat in its many forms: whole berries, cracked wheat, flakes, germ, bran, flour, bulgur, and couscous. Wheat germ, wheat bran, and flour are all used in baking but are almost never served on their own.
Wheat Berries. The whole grain form of wheat, wheat berries can be cooked and served in many of the same ways as barley, such as in salads, soups, and pilafs. It takes about 1¼ to 1½ hours of simmering to render the berries chewy but tender, using 1 part berries to 4 parts water. That time can be reduced to 50 to 60 minutes by presoaking the berries overnight.
Some people like to eat sprouted wheat berries in salads and sandwiches. You can sprout wheat berries just as you would mung beans. See page 18.
Cracked Wheat. Wheat berries that have been cracked and ground to form coarse grits are called cracked wheat. Cracked wheat looks similar to bulgur in both its cooked and uncooked state but is more uniform in color. It also tastes similar to bulgur. Whereas bulgur can be steamed, cracked wheat must be boiled. Gently boil 1 part cracked wheat in 2⅓ cups liquid in a covered saucepan for about 15 minutes. If your cooked cracked wheat is mushy in texture, you may be inadvertently cooking with bulgur.
The cracked wheat you find in most natural food stores will be a medium or coarse grind. A fine grind becomes a breakfast cereal. Wheatina cereal is an example of finely ground cracked wheat.
Bulgur. Most of us were introduced to bulgur in tabouli, the Middle Eastern salad of bulgur, parsley, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a lemon-mint dressing. Bulgur has a very distinctive nutty flavor that ensures it will not be lost in a crowd of ingredients.
Bulgur was created in the Middle East, which helps explain the variant spellings of this grain—bulgur, bulghur, bulgar, burgul. However it is spelled, it is always made from wheat berries that have been washed, steamed, hulled, and dried. You can often find it crushed to different grinds—fine, medium, and coarse. Because it is precooked, bulgur requires very little additional handling. Soaking it in boiling water for about 15 minutes should do the trick. Always drain off any excess water once the grains are tender.
Bulgur is easy to confuse with cracked wheat because the two look nearly identical—so be sure to label your jars if you buy your grains in bulk. Cracked wheat is more uniform in color. On occasion you will even find bulgur mislabeled as cracked wheat—or vice versa—in a bin at a natural food store. If soaking the bulgur in boiling water for 15 minutes doesn't result in a tender grain, you may have inadvertently bought cracked wheat.
Rolled Wheat Flakes. Like rolled oats, rolled wheat flakes make a delicious breakfast cereal. The homemade flavor is quite like Ralston and other packaged wheat cereals. Cook 1 part rolled wheat in 3 parts liquid, just as you would oatmeal. Rolled wheat flakes can also be used in granola mixes.
Couscous. Traditionally made from hand-rolled semolina wheat, couscous is more like a pasta than a grain. Nonetheless, it is cooked and served like a grain, so it is treated as such in this book. Couscous has a very mild flavor, which makes it an excellent foil for spicy stews. Use it in place of rice for variety.

Virtually all of the couscous sold in this country is precooked. All that is required to cook it is to steep it in boiling water, as with bulgur. Use 1 part couscous to 1½ cups boiling water or broth. Combine in a bowl, cover, and let steep for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let stand for another 5 minutes before serving.

Buying and Storing Grains
Because whole grains are rich in natural oils, they will go rancid over a period of 1 to 12 months, depending on the grain and the temperature at which they are stored. Even before the grains smell rancid, the vitamins will oxidize, which means the grains won't have the same nutritional value. It is, therefore, a good idea to buy grains from a natural food store with rapid turnover.
When you buy grains in bulk, it is very important to label the storage containers in which you keep them in order to avoid confusion later on.
Dating the containers is also a good idea so you can keep track of the freshness of the grains. 
To keep whole grains at their nutritious best, store in tightly sealed containers for up to 1 month at room temperature or for up to 5 months in the refrigerator. Oats, pearled barley, and hominy will keep for up to 1 year on a cool, dry shelf.
Cooked grains can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container. They do not freeze particularly well.