Bulgur, quinoa, rice and the like are excellent things to keep in your pantry, as they cook up quickly and can form the base of your next dinner or packed lunch. (Plus, if you’re the planning type, you can make a big batch of grains to keep in your fridge, meaning your meal is ready that much sooner!)
These recipes from our archives were designed with specific flavors and textures in mind, but use them as a jumping-off point. Learn how to cook with these grains, then go forth and experiment with the produce and spices available in your kitchen. And let us know what you come up with!
Lebanese-Style Tabbouleh, above. This grain isn’t even cooked. Bulgur, or parcooked cracked wheat, requires only a soak to be rendered chewy and flavorful. In this recipe, you’ll soak a half-cup of bulgur in a mix of lemon juice, olive oil and scallions, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes (longer if you like; no need to fear the mixture going mushy). Stir in two bunches of chopped parsley, one bunch of chopped mint and a few diced tomatoes, and season as needed with salt and pepper. Ideally, you’d eat this right away, but we had leftovers the next day, and they were still excellent.
Bulgur Salad With Spinach, Tomatoes and Herbs. You can cook bulgur, too, of course. This salad is a little bulkier, thanks to a higher grain-to-herb ratio.
Freekeh and Roasted Tomato With Za’atar. Time to get smoky with freekeh, a smoked green wheat that cooks in as little as 12 minutes. Here it’s paired with roasted tomatoes, plenty of feta and a generous amount of za’atar. It’s excellent served warm but takes well to packing for lunches, too.
Freekeh Salad With Raspberries. Here’s a nice contrast of flavors, colors and textures, with sweet-tart raspberries, crisp celery and crunchy pistachios. Add some meaty leftovers from the grill on top for a satisfying office lunch.
Corn and Quinoa Bowls With Herb Sauce. Another excellent lunch candidate, this recipe was made for making ahead. It’s got a punchy sauce of cilantro, basil, scallions, olive oil and lime juice, plus a hearty base of quinoa and corn cooked in chicken broth (for extra flavor!). Fresh toppings of cucumber, radishes and avocado round it out. Top with cooked chicken breast (or really, any protein you like).
Tandoori-Style Shrimp With Rice and Peas. Spicy, yogurt-marinated shrimp are plump and perfect on top of white rice, yet another quick-cooking staple.
Polenta With Basil and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes. Last but not least, we present one of our favorite quick-cooking grains: polenta. It’s as easy as heating some liquid, stirring in a medium-grind cornmeal to form a porridge, then adding more flavor (in this case, butter and cheese). Use it as a bed for roasted tomatoes, shrimp, pulled chicken or anything your heart desires.
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