Grains

The Game-Changing Tip That Will Shave Precious Time Off of Meal Prep

January 16, 2018

We're always looking for shortcuts to make our meal-making a little faster, a little smarter. Lindsay Maitland Hunt's new Healthyish cookbook is chock-full of smart ideas and recipes, and here she shares one of her favorite tips from the book with us.

Boiling grains (instead of using the absorption method) is a game-changing time-saver in kitchen. Not only do the grains cook in about half the time, but also you don’t run the same risk of overcooking them to a sad mush.

A batch of whole grains in your fridge means you’ve got breakfast, lunch, and dinner ready for the week. Use them in a breakfast grain bowl, or top with an easy chicken and bok choy stir-fry.

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What’s great about these grains is that they are interchangeable. So if you’ve made a batch of barley, swap it in for the rice in kimchi fried rice. Same goes for a warm farro dish—quinoa or brown rice would taste equally great.

Below are some guidelines for boiling grains, as well as a variety of recipes you can try them out in!


Pearl Barley

INGREDIENTS:

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Top Comment:
“I'm still using a lot of Kashi Pilaf. It's a mix of 7 grains, and I started using it many, many years ago. Failing that, I always have a supply of individual grains, too, which I mix and match depending on where I want to go with them. ;) I cook my grains in the rice cooker. I just have the little 3-cup, push the button and go kind, but it works perfectly. It cooks a 3-pack of the Kashi Pilaf or a pound bag of lentils or equivalent of other things. The only time I had a problem with this method was when I tried to cook the little orange lentils and didn't think to reduce the liquid. ;) Not good for a grain salad, but it made a nice lentil soup. I add EVO/ghee and spices to the grains/rice before I cook them for grain bowls etc. so they have a bit more flavor, and I can just toss them with a vinaigrette for an easy meal but not so much flavor that I can't put them in a soup or something else.”
— beejay45
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5 cups (1.2 L) water / 1 cup (200 g) pearl barley, rinsed / 1 teaspoon kosher salt

HOW TO MAKE IT: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the barley and salt and cover. As soon as the water returns to a boil, reduce to a strong simmer. Cook, covered, until the barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. (It’s OK if the grains are still a bit chewy; you want them to stay this way!) Drain any extra liquid and cool to room temperature. Fluff with a fork and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate the barley for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Makes 2 1/4 cups.


Farro

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups (1.2 L) water / 1 cup (200 g) farro, rinsed / 1 teaspoon kosher salt

HOW TO MAKE IT: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the farro and salt and cover. As soon as the water returns to a boil, reduce to a strong simmer, cover, and cook until the farro is tender, 14 to 18 minutes. (It’s OK if the grains are still a bit chewy; you want them to stay this way!) Drain any extra liquid and cool to room temperature. Fluff with a fork and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate the farro for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Makes 2 1/4 cups.


Brown Rice

INGREDIENTS

5 cups (1.2 L) water / 1 cup (190 g) short- or long-grain brown rice, rinsed / 1 teaspoon kosher salt

HOW TO MAKE IT: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and salt and cover. As soon as the water returns to a boil, reduce to a strong simmer. Cook, covered, until the rice is tender, 22 to 26 minutes. (It’s OK if the grains are still a bit chewy; you want them to stay this way!) Drain any extra liquid and cool to room temperature. Fluff with a fork and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate the rice for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Makes 2 1/4 cups.


Quinoa

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups (1.2 L) water / 1 cup (170 g) quinoa, rinsed / 1 teaspoon kosher salt

HOW TO MAKE IT: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the quinoa and salt and cover. As soon as the water returns to a boil, reduce to a strong simmer. Cook, covered, until the quinoa is tender, 10 to 14 minutes. (It’s OK if the grains are still a bit chewy; you want them to stay this way!) Drain any extra liquid and cool to room temperature. Fluff with a fork and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate the quinoa for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Makes 2 1/4 cups.

What are your favorite hearty grains, and how do you like to use them? Share your tips with us below.

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Food Writer and Recipe Developer

1 Comment

beejay45 March 17, 2018
I'm still using a lot of Kashi Pilaf. It's a mix of 7 grains, and I started using it many, many years ago. Failing that, I always have a supply of individual grains, too, which I mix and match depending on where I want to go with them. ;)

I cook my grains in the rice cooker. I just have the little 3-cup, push the button and go kind, but it works perfectly. It cooks a 3-pack of the Kashi Pilaf or a pound bag of lentils or equivalent of other things. The only time I had a problem with this method was when I tried to cook the little orange lentils and didn't think to reduce the liquid. ;) Not good for a grain salad, but it made a nice lentil soup.

I add EVO/ghee and spices to the grains/rice before I cook them for grain bowls etc. so they have a bit more flavor, and I can just toss them with a vinaigrette for an easy meal but not so much flavor that I can't put them in a soup or something else.