A No-Fuss Method for Cooking Almost Any Whole Grain

published Sep 10, 2012
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I don’t bother with carefully measuring water or fiddling around with getting just the right flame when I cook whole grains on the stove. Instead, I cook pretty much every type of grain using the same no-fuss method — with great results every time.

Basically, I use the same method for cooking whole grains that I use for cooking pasta: I simmer the grains in a good amount of salted water until they are the right texture, and then drain them. Some grains like quinoa benefit from a 10-minute rest in the covered pot after draining, which gives a better texture, but for most of the other grains I use on a regular basis, such as barley, wheat berries, or farro, this isn’t necessary.

Brown rice is the only whole grain I don’t use this method for, as I prefer the texture when it is cooked in the traditional way, but it can done. In fact, Saveur uses it in their recipe for Perfect Brown Rice.

A couple hints when using this method:

• When cooking quinoa, watch for the point when most of the grains have little spirals (the germ) curling around them. That’s when it’s done cooking. Drain it, put it back in the pot off the heat and cover it for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

• For all other grains, periodically taste as they cook and drain them once they are cooked through and soft.

• Very hard grains like wheat berries will need 45 minutes or more of simmering, so add water if too much boils off during cooking.

• As with pasta, generously salt the water. You can also add bay leaf, herb sprigs, garlic cloves or other aromatics that can be easily removed once the grains are cooked through.

Have you ever tried this method? How do you cook whole grains?

(Image: Joe Belanger/Shutterstock)