Grains are an important part of our diet and cooking them is not nearly as challenging as people seem to believe. In fact, you can cook almost any grain in the same fashion as pasta – by boiling! And also like pasta, grains are inexpensive. Look for them in the bulk section of stores, where you can buy just as much as you’d like, especially if you’re trying a grain for the first time.

Get to know these eight grains, all of which cook up in 30 minutes or less.


couscous2Cook Time: 5 – 15 minutes

Usually made from
semolina or whole wheat flour. Comes in a variety of sizes and colors.
A very forgiving grain – won’t turn to mush when cooking (or overcooking)
Try as a vegetable pilaf, risotto, stew or gratin




Cook Time: 5 – 10 minutes

Rolled oats are the most flavorful and best textured oat variety.

Try as oatmeal, granola, or adding into baked goods

Combine with fresh or dried fruit, ground spices, nuts and seeds
bulgar2Cook Time: 10 – 20 minutes

Bulgar is nothing more than finely ground wheat kernels that have a mild, nutty flavor and fluffy texture.

Try: creaming bulgar and serving with roasted or grilled vegetables, making into a pilaf, chili or pan fried patties.



Cook Time: about 20 minutes

Quinoa is nutty and grassy in flavor with a slight crunch.

Try: serving with caramelized onions, herbs, and other vegetables, in a potato pancake, or roasted with potatoes and cheese
barley2Cook time: about 20 minutes

Pearled barley is creamy, with a slightly chewy texture, which makes it a great rice alternative

Try: it as a pilaf, with mushrooms in a stew, or as a succotash with beans and corn


cornmealCook time: 20 – 30 minutes

Cornmeal is exactly what it sounds like – ground and dried corn kernels. Look for stone ground, which is the most flavorful and least processed

Use yellow cornmeal for polenta and white for grits. Serve either seasoned with cheese and herbs, with meat, vegetables, beans and herbs



Cook time: 20 – 30 minutes

Kasha is hulled and roasted buckwheat kernels that have a unique, nutty taste. Toast in a skillet before cooking to prevent a mushy texture in the end.

Try: serving with onions, parsnips, mushrooms or bitter greens



Cook time: 20 – 30 minutes

Millet is mild, nutty and cornlike. It is said to be one of the first grains used by humans in Ancient China.

Try: making into a mash with garlic and cauliflower or carrots, or bake with winter squash