9 Grains You Need to Know and How to Cook Them

Let’s be honest — we foodies are hipsters extraordinaire. You like chocolate? Please. We only eat single-origin bars. Our favorite IPA? You’ve probably never heard of it. We’ve been outdoing hipsters long before the first suspenders-wearing bartender landed in Brooklyn, but for all our food snobbery, there’s one frontier we’ve left untouched: grains.

Here’s the thing. We know you liked rice before sushi made it cool. You were eating quinoa when no one even knew how to pronounce it yet. But after one too many stir-fries and granolas, our mainstays are so mainstream — and now, it’s time to introduce a few new staples to the repertoire. If quinoa was the Coachella headliner, think of freekeh, amaranth, and Kamut as the indie bands you saw once at a dusty, underground club. They’re about to make it big — and when they do, just remember that you knew them first.

Image: Tucker

Millet

Don’t be fooled — this tiny grain is a boss. It’s happy sweet or savory, baked in breads or tossed into a stir-fry, but our favorite way to use up millet? Breakfast porridge, hands down. A Better Happier St. Sebastian balances out the grainy texture with a bright berry compote.

Image: A Better Happier St. Sebastian

Wheat Berries

You already love wheat in your bread and pastries — now, let’s give crunchy wheat berries a chance. Learn how to prep them at the Kitchn, and then bulk up your next stir-fry. Thanks, Love and Lemons!

Image: Love and Lemons

Freekeh

It may have a funny name, but this grain means business. The Huffington Post notes that freekeh is essentially young wheat berries, full of fiber and perfect for giving your salad a little heft, à la Green Kitchen Stories.

Image: Green Kitchen Stories

Barley

Barley’s not just for beer anymore. In addition to a whole laundry list of health benefits, barley makes one heck of a weeknight dinner, especially when you top it with pancetta and a fried egg. Thanks, Tucker!

Image: Tucker

Kamut

If Kamut sounds like a lost Egyptian pharaoh to you, you aren’t far off. Naturally Ella reports that it’s one of the oldest grains farmed in Egypt — and with its sweet, buttery taste, Kamut practically begs to beef up your salad.

Image: Naturally Ella

Farro

Is your Kamut kaput? Farro (or hulled wheat) is a good substitute, especially in savory dishes. Its longer shape also lends itself to all things rice, including Cooking for Keeps’ summery stir-fry.

Image: Cooking for Keeps

Bulgur

Wheat is the gift that keeps on giving. Cooking Light notes that bulgur is wheat that’s been parboiled and broken into smaller pieces — which means quicker cooking times for you. Taste Food turns hers into a hearty salad with shrimp and kale.

Image: Taste Food

Amaranth

According to the Whole Grains Council, amaranth isn’t actually a cereal grain — but we love it all the same. Native to Peru, it’s often ground into flour, but we think it’s meant to be in this toasted coconut porridge from Savory Simple.

Image: Savory Simple

Quinoa

Okay, okay. We had to give you at least one quinoa recipe — ironically, of course. (Or not. You decide.) Half Baked Harvest whips up creamy eggplant parmesan with a quinoa crust, for old times’ sake.

Image: Half Baked Harvest