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Named a Best Book of the Year and a Holiday Gift Pick by Amazon
Named a Best Cookbook the Year by Food52, Booklist, and Library Journal
“A gift to readers . . . For McFadden, flavor comes first.”
—Booklist, Top 10 Cookbooks of the Year
James Beard Award Finalist
Joshua McFadden’s first book, the James Beard Award–winning and perennially bestselling Six Seasons, transformed the way we cook with vegetables. Now he’s back with a new book that applies his maximalist approach to flavor and texture to cooking with grains. These knock-your-socks-off recipes include salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, grain bowls, breads—and even desserts. McFadden works as intuitively, as surprisingly, as deliciously with whole grains as he does with vegetables. Grains for Every Season will change the way we cook with barley, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat (bulgur, farro, freekeh, spelt, wheat berries, and whole wheat flour), and wild rice.
The book’s 200 recipes are organized into chapters by grain type, unlocking information on where each one comes from, how to prepare it, and why the author—the multi-award-winning chef/owner of Ava Gene’s in Portland—can’t live without it. McFadden uses grains both whole and milled into flour. The many gluten-free recipes are clearly designated.
McFadden reveals how each grain can be used in both savory and sweet recipes, from Meat Loaf with Barley and Mushrooms to Peanut Butter–Barley Cookies; from Buckwheat, Lime and Herb Salad to Buckwheat Cream Scones. He folds quinoa into tempura batter to give veggies extra pop and takes advantage of the nutty flavor of spelt flour for Cast-Iron Skillet Spelt Cinnamon Rolls. Four special foldout sections highlight seasonal variations on grain bowls, stir-fries, pizzas, pilafs, and more, to show how flexible and satisfying cooking with grains can be.
Whole-Grain Basics and Techniques
Depending on what dish you're making, your grain may need slightly customized treatment, but the following general information and techniques apply to all the grains in this book.
The fats in the germ of a whole grain can go rancid fairly easily at room temperature —especially if the grain has been cracked, flaked, rolled, or milled into a flour or meal —so you want your grains to stay as cool and dry as possible, and definitely out of direct sunlight. While it would be ideal to keep everything in the fridge or freezer, that's not practical . . . unless you don't have many grains and/or have massive appliances!
A good compromise is to store whole grains in a jar or other sealed container (as opposed to just leaving them in their bag) in the pantry for no longer than six months.
If you live in a hot or humid climate, or if you're only reaching for those grains every couple of months, go ahead and freeze them from the start, either in a freezer container or in their original packaging sealed inside a freezer bag. If you have a vacuum sealer, now is the time to deploy it; freeze the grains in portion sizes that you're likely to use in one recipe.
However you contain your grains, be sure to label with the grain type and the date you freeze it (masking tape and a Sharpie work well for this). Farro and barley can look maddeningly similar without any clues.
When well frozen, all uncooked whole grains will be fine for a year, possibly more.
To me, rinsing grains is a bit like scalding milk —you'll see it in some recipes, but it feels like a step left over from an older time. Nowadays, almost all grains, whether produced domestically or elsewhere, are clean and well sorted, so it's not like you're rinsing off the dust from a long wagon-train transport. But rinsing won't hurt anything, so feel free to do it, unless you plan to toast the grains. In that case, the moisture will interfere with proper toasting, especially if you're toasting in oil (wet grains + hot oil = not a safe situation).
Many cooks like to soak their grains for a few hours or overnight as a way to speed cooking, but I'm not one of them. While a soak of at least eight and up to twenty-four hours helps the bran layer soften so that liquid and flavorings can penetrate more easily during cooking, I've found that the cooking time is only cut by ten minutes or so, not enough time savings for me to go through the (slight) hassle of soaking. I do soak brown rice for the Slow-Roasted Chicken Buried in Gingery Brown Rice, however, because I've found that it helps the rice and chicken cook at the right rate. But just because I don't soak doesn't mean you shouldn't try it for yourself. I encourage anything that gets you to cook whole grains more often!
I love to toast my grains before I cook them when I want to deepen the flavor. Toasting can also help keep the individual grains nice and separate once they're cooked. The term “toasting” is a catchall, because sometimes I toast with oil, sometimes without, either in the oven on a sheet pan or on the stovetop in a skillet. Here are my basic methods.
Dry-toast in the oven: Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the grain on a sheet pan and bake until lightly golden and nutty smelling, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate or tray so it stops cooking and cools quickly.
Dry-toast in a skillet: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour in the raw grains, and cook, stirring and shaking the pan frequently to move the grains around so they cook evenly. Toast until the grains are slightly darker and smell nutty and toasty; this usually takes 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or tray so the grains stop cooking and cool quickly.
Skillet-toast with oil: Pour a small glug of olive oil into a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, add the grain, and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly darker and smelling toasty. Take your time, because you don't want it to get too dark, but you do want it thoroughly toasted. It should take 5 to 7 minutes, but start tasting around 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate or tray so they stop cooking and cool quickly.
Skillet-toast with oil and aromatics: Pour a small glug of olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat and add a clove or two of smashed garlic and a pinch of dried chile flakes. Cook slowly until the garlic is getting soft, fragrant, and nicely golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the grain and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so the grains toast evenly, until they have darkened slightly and are fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Watch the garlic —if it looks or smells at risk of burning, scoop it out and then return to the grains as you assemble your recipe. And if it has in fact burned, discard it and the cooking oil.
Grains may be cooked a number of ways, all of which involve hydrating the hard kernels into something nicely chewy-tender. The method you use may depend on what your recipe recommends or simply what you feel like doing. I use all of the following methods, mostly based on my mood of the moment or what else is happening in the kitchen. For certain grains, however, I prefer the boil-like-pasta method; I have indicated this in each relevant grain section.
Absorption method: This is the method that you most likely use to cook white rice: You combine a measured amount of grain with a measured amount of liquid, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is properly cooked, fluffy, and tender. The method works well for most whole grains, though it requires a bit of finessing. Unlike mass-produced refined rice, whole grains can vary from producer to producer, even batch to batch, in the amount of liquid they need to become tender and fully cooked, so you'll need to pay attention as you cook, adding a splash more here or draining off a bit of excess liquid there.
I give ratios of grain to liquid in individual grain sections, but those are just guidelines. Once you dial in a good ratio for the batch of grains currently in your pantry, be sure to mark it on the bag or tape it to the inside of your cupboard door.
Here are the steps for the absorption method: Put your measured grain (toasted or untoasted) and water or broth in a heavy-bottomed pot with the measured salt (and butter, if using). Cover and bring to a boil —keep a vigilant eye so the water doesn't boil over. Once boiling, immediately adjust the heat so it simmers nicely when covered again. Simmer like this until the grains are tender and cooked through but not mushy (unless you're making porridge); start checking about 5 minutes before the beginning of the suggested time range. (Note that you don't want to stir the grains after the first few seconds of simmering, or you'll bring out the starch and make the grains stickier or more porridge-y. Which is great for a porridge, but not for fluffy, separate grains.)
If the grains seem hard or chalky in the middle but you don't see any more liquid, add a couple of tablespoons and resume; repeat as needed. Conversely, if the grains are cooked to your liking but you can still see liquid around the bottom of the pan, dump everything into a big sieve and tap to remove excess liquid.
In either case, once the grains are cooked and any liquid has been drained off, cover the pot again and let it sit off the heat for about 5 minutes, which will let everything equilibrate. Fluff with a fork, and away you go.
An advantage to the absorption method over the “boil like pasta” method (see below) is that you can use a flavored liquid, such as broth, instead of just water.
Pilaf method: A step beyond simple absorption is what's sometimes called the “pilaf” method. This is where you start by sautéing some finely chopped onion, shallot, carrot, or other aromatic vegetables (called a mirepoix, pronounced MEER-pwah) in oil or butter, then add the grain and sauté for a few minutes, as with the “skillet-toast with oil” method. Once the grains are shiny and just slightly darker, add your measured liquid, cover, and continue with the absorption method.
Boil-like-pasta method: Bring a large amount of water to a boil in a large saucepan (use at least four times as much water as grain, with plenty more room in the saucepan to allow for boiling up), add salt, and add the grains. Adjust the heat so the water boils but isn't exploding over the rim of the pan. Boil, uncovered, until the grains are cooked to your liking; again, start checking about 5 minutes before the lower end of the time range, just so you don't miss your target. When the grains are cooked to your liking, drain well, return the grains to the pan, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
You won't want to use broth in the boil-like-pasta method because you'll pour some off, which would be wasteful.
For all these methods, remember that the grains will continue to cook a bit until you've taken them out of the pan, so think “just past al dente.”
▷▶ Popping Grains
While dried corn is the popping standout among grains, most other grains can be popped to transform them from hard, dense kernels into something lighter, crunchier, and toastier in flavor. The idea is to subject the grain to a blast of heat so that the moisture held within expands instantly, puffing the kernel as the starchy interior swells and bursts. Sorghum pops the way corn does, displaying a white puffy interior, though the kernels themselves are tiny compared to popped corn. Other grains with which I have had popping success are brown rice, wild rice, barley, and buckwheat. The final result isn't light and fluffy-puffy like popcorn, but I love the texture and sometimes use the same grain two ways in a dish —cooked in liquid and popped —with the popped version as a final textural accent.
Here's how I pop grains: Heat a (dry) heavy-bottomed pot or deep heavy skillet over high heat until just about smoking. Pour in enough grains to lightly cover the surface of the pan in a single layer and immediately shake the pan to move the grains around. You should hear some cracking and popping and you'll see the grains become slightly larger. Unlike popcorn, most other grains won't actually hop out of the pan, but if yours seem lively, go ahead and cover the pan to avoid any surprises. Tip the grains onto a plate or tray as soon as most have popped to let them cool. You can use as is or season with some salt and any popcorn seasonings.
▷▶ Sprouting Grains
A plain whole grain is so crazy nutritious, it's hard to imagine making it even more so, but the simple technique of sprouting can do just that. Sprouting means creating conditions that send a message to the grain kernel that it's time to produce a sprout so it can plant itself in the soil and get started making more rye or farro. We cleverly interrupt that process as soon as the kernel cracks open and a tiny sprout appears, and then we eat the sprouted grain much as we would an unsprouted one.
So why go through this process? Nutrition is a big reason. Sprouting breaks down some of the grain's starch, and also breaks down phytate, a form of phytic acid that can impede absorption by our bodies of some vitamins and minerals. I also like the flavor and texture of sprouted grains. To me, they taste just a bit sweeter and richer.
Here's how I sprout grains: First, make sure your grains are totally whole —not rolled, pearled, or hulled, please. Rinse the grains in cool water, then transfer to a bowl, cover with cool water, and soak overnight.
Drain, rinse again, and drain thoroughly. Transfer to a sterilized jar that is spacious enough for the grains to swell up; ½ cup (about 100 g) grains in a quart jar gives you plenty of room. Cover the mouth of the jar with a double layer of cheesecloth secured by a rubber band (or use a nifty perforated sprouting lid). Tip the jar so it's upside down at an angle and place in a bowl or other position so that it stays secure. You want air to enter the jar through the cheesecloth and the moisture to drip out (that's why a bowl is a good idea). Set the jar in a cool place; between 68° and 75°F (24° and 20°C) is perfect.
Every 12 hours, rinse and drain the grains again. You can keep them in the jar and just pour the water through the cheesecloth or perforated lid. Check the grains after 24 hours to look for little “tails” emerging; it may take a few days before sprouting begins.
Once the sprouts are about as long as the grain itself, they are ready. You're not trying to make bean sprouts here; the grain kernel is still the main player. Rinse the sprouted grains, drain really well, and store in the refrigerator up to three days. I use them in all types of dishes, and you should, too. I don't list sprouting as a separate step in the recipes in this book —that's a bit too much advance planning! —but know that just about any of these dishes would be excellent with sprouted grains. To be perfectly safe, however, you should only eat the sprouted grains after cooking, to reduce any risk of foodborne illness.
▷▶ Cooking Ahead
Cooked grain can be refrigerated for up to five days, and nothing is more convenient than having a batch of cooked quinoa, millet, or barley ready to transform into dinner in an instant.
In the fridge: Store the cooked grains tightly covered. Most grains get a little stiff when they're cold, because their starches tighten up, so to use them in a dish where they won't be cooked again, loosen them up by zapping them for a few seconds in a microwave or steaming in a covered pot with a splash of water. For something like a salad, just let the grains come to room temperature.
IN the freezer: To freeze, make sure your cooked grains are completely cool. Measure out portions (1 cup, 2 cups, or more if you cook large batches); put into freezer bags; and label with the grain type, amount, how it was cooked (in water or with flavorings such as broth or bay leaf), and the date you cooked and froze it. Flatten out the grains to make a slim package, which will help the grains freeze faster. Freezing the grains this way also makes it easy to just break off a portion if you don't want to use the whole amount at one time.
To use, thaw overnight in the fridge, or steam or microwave the frozen grain until thawed. If adding to a hot dish such as a soup or stew, go ahead and drop in the frozen grains, then proceed with the recipe.
Barley Salad with Beets, Plums, and Pistachios
Lightly Curried Lamb, Cabbage, and Barley Soup
Super Grain and Veggie Burgers
Meat Loaf with Barley and Mushrooms
Peanut Butter–Barley Cookies with Add-Ins
▶ Contains gluten ◀
●▷ Why I love it: Barley was my gateway grain. I first ate it as a kid as I slurped down a hot bowl of Campbell's Beef with Vegetables and Barley soup. What's in those cans does not compare to the nutritious locally grown barley I eat now, but my ten-year-old self thought it was delicious.
●▷ What it tastes like: Maybe thanks to Campbell's, barley is fairly familiar to most of us. It's on the sweet side of nutty with a texture that's pleasantly firm and chewy and the tiniest bit slippery, with no trace of chalkiness. The flavor is fairly neutral, making barley extremely versatile.
●▷ Common forms: Hulled, also called hulless, has had the tough outer hull removed (with some varieties, the hull falls off during harvest: with others, it's abraded off mechanically), but the bran is still (mostly) intact. Pearled (or pearl) barley is most common. It's not technically a whole grain, as some or all of the bran has been “pearled” or polished off, so it isn't as nutritious as hulled, but it still is plenty healthful, and it cooks much more quickly. Quick-cooking barley is pearl barley that has been partially cooked, rolled into flakes (sort of the way oatmeal is), and dried.
●▷ Favorite ways to prepare it: Because barley holds its shape so nicely, it's excellent in soups and stews as well as in salads, where it drinks up the dressing without turning mushy. Hulled is a good choice for salads and other dishes in which you want the barley grains to stay separate and be chewy, while pearled barley absorbs more water and swells more, releasing a bit of starch, providing creaminess to your dish, meaning it's a good choice for barley “risotto.”
●▷ How it's good for you: Barley is super nutritious and boasts one of the highest amounts of fiber of all whole cereal grains, including a special type of fiber (a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, also found in oats) that helps control blood sugar and reduces the risk of heart disease. Barley has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and significantly lower total cholesterol. Even better: That beta-glucan fiber is found within the entire barley grain, not just the bran layer, as with some other grains. So even refined barley contains some of this good stuff.
→ 1 cup uncooked barley weighs 7 ounces (200 g).
→ Use 3 parts liquid to 1 part barley, as a rule of thumb, for the absorption method.
→ Cook quick-cooking barley for 10 to 20 minutes; pearled for 20 to 30 minutes; hulled for 45 to 60 minutes.
→ 1 cup (200 g) uncooked barley yields 3½ cups (600 g) cooked.
→ 1 cup barley flour weighs 4¼ ounces (120 g).
Barley Salad with Beets, Plums, and Pistachios
1 cup (200 g) uncooked barley, pearled or hulled
3 cups (720 ml) water
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chile, such as chile de árbol
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces (225 g) red or yellow beets
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces (225 g) red or yellow plums, pitted
4 scallions, trimmed (including ½ inch/1.5 cm off the green tops), sliced on a sharp angle, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes, and well drained
½ cup (60 g) roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Dried chile flakes
Small handful torn fresh mint and/or flat-leaf parsley leaves
This is a simple and perfect grain salad that we make every year at my restaurant when we have luscious local plums. It's an example of why you'll be smart to have cooked barley in your fridge. Salads like this can be made with any combination of vegetables you have on hand (and any cooked grain, for that matter), so use this one as a template for your seasonal favorites. Don't be shy with the pistachios, which add not only incredible flavor and crunch but a nice pop of color contrast, too. —Serves 4
Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Put the barley, water, bay leaf, dried chile, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the barley is tender and all the water has been absorbed, 45 to 60 minutes for hulled barley, about 30 minutes for pearled barley. If the barley is tender but there's liquid left, just drain it off; if the water has been absorbed but the barley isn't fully tender, add a few tablespoons more water and keep cooking until tender.
When the barley is ready, drain well and discard the bay leaf and chile. Toss the barley with a nice glug of olive oil and spread onto a tray so the grains are separate. Cool completely at room temperature.
Meanwhile, arrange the beets in a baking dish in a single layer. Season with salt and pour ¼ cup (60 ml) water into the dish. Cover tightly with foil, transfer to the oven, and steam-roast until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Depending on the size and density of the beets, this could take between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
When the beets are tender, let them cool until you can handle them, then rub or pare away the skins. Cut the beets into bite-size chunks, pile into a bowl, and toss with the vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and many twists of black pepper. Let the beets sit a minute to absorb the vinegar, then drizzle on some olive oil and toss again.
Cut the plums into the same size chunks as the beets and add to the bowl, along with the scallions, pistachios, barley, and a pinch of chile flakes.
Toss everything again gently, so you don't smash the plums. Taste and season with more vinegar, salt, black pepper, chile flakes, or olive oil —you want to get a nice sweet/salty/spicy thing going. Shower with the fresh herbs and serve right away, at cool room temperature.
Skip the beets, double the plums, and use about 1 cup (150 g) fresh red currants. Use shiso instead of mint or parsley.
Lightly Curried Lamb, Cabbage, and Barley Soup
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds (1.35 kg) meaty lamb shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
2 quarts (2 liters) chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced and well rinsed
One 5-inch (12.5 cm) sprig rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
Three or four 4-inch (10 cm) sprigs thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons mild or hot curry powder
1 cup (200 g) pearled barley
4 cups very thinly sliced white or savoy cabbage (about 225 g)
1 large potato (I like Yukon Gold), cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
I love the way the barley absorbs the warm spices of curry powder. I prefer a mild, sweet curry, but if you like more spicy heat, use a hot curry mix. The barley also absorbs liquid as it sits, so when serving leftovers (which will be even better than the soup is on the first day), you may need to add more broth or water. The soup freezes nicely, so think about stashing a few cups for later. —Makes 3 quarts (3 liters), serves 8
Heat a glug of olive oil over medium-high heat in a pot that's large enough to hold the lamb shanks. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the pot, and brown them on all sides, taking your time to get a nice bit of color, about 10 minutes total. Reduce the heat if the lamb seems to be getting too brown too fast.
Pour in the wine and simmer until the wine has reduced to about ½ cup (120 ml), then add the broth. Adjust the heat to a lively simmer, cover, and cook, until the lamb is very tender and literally falling off the bone. Make sure you're not actually boiling the shanks, which could toughen the meat. Depending on the size and density of your lamb shanks, this could take 1 to 3 hours. When the lamb is cooked, remove it from the broth, let cool, then pull the meat from the bones. Cut or pull the meat into bite-size pieces. Skim any visible fat off the broth.
“These are some of the most wholesome and wholly delicious things you can eat, period. . . . Each chapter [of Grains for Every Season] has cooking techniques and nutritional breakdowns that unlock the mysteries of the whole grain pantry, from barley to wheat berries. But the fact that they're great for you is secondary to how good they taste.”“The bigger your family, the greater the likelihood you'll need to accommodate a wide variety of diets. Hence one can't overestimate the value of a good plant-based cookbook. One of the year's most versatile is Grains for Every Season by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg. Whether you've never quite figured out your way around farro or you just want more quinoa in your life, these whole grains can radically alter your definition of breakfast (Millet Morning Porridge), entrées (Meat Loaf with Barley and Mushrooms), breads (Spelt Buttermilk Biscuits), and sweets (Chocolate Rye Brownies with Cashew Swirl).”
“Joshua McFadden and his co-author Martha Holmberg write with authority, clarity and passion; it’s impossible to read [Grains for Every Season] without wanting to rush into the kitchen. And you will be glad you did. . . . [McFadden’s] sense of flavour and the balance of textures is unerring; with him, you know dinner will always be a delight. His food is hearty and yet elegant, inventive but never tricksy.”
“McFadden’s modern and accessible approach to cooking brings a kinetic excitement to your kitchen. From quick weekday meals and breakfasts to more complex projects, the recipes ring clear with encouragement and allow for variety and spontaneity.”
—Edible Los Angeles, The Season’s Most Delicious Reads
“Easy and delicious.”
“If you’re a vegetable lover, you probably bought the American chef Joshua McFadden’s bestselling Six Seasons (it’s one of the best vegetable books I own) so I’m glad to see this follow up on whole grains. The background information on each grain is excellent (though the book is not encyclopaedic, which is a plus). There’s plenty of advice, to—how to toast grains, sprout them and cook them by the absorption method. It’s the dishes, though, that will sway you.”
—Diana Henry, Sunday Telegraph (U.K.), The 20 Best Cookbooks to Buy This Autumn
“Novel takes on recipes for every meal (including dessert) . . . This is a gift to readers, inviting them to buy a single bag of grain and experiment with its uses at different meals and in both cooking and baking. McFadden also offers clear and concise advice on how to store and prep these grains and information on their health benefits. But this isn’t a cookbook about healthy eating. For McFadden, flavor comes first.”
—Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Joshua McFadden gives new life to ancient—and contemporary—grains. From maple millet bread and barley burgers, to super-fudgy oat cake and “Cracker Jack”-seasoned caramel corn . . . Grains for Every Season changes the grain game!”
—David Lebovitz, author, Drinking French and My Paris Kitchen
“Whole grain lovers, rejoice! How lucky are we to explore the delicious world of whole grains with Joshua McFadden’s new cookbook. I recommend starting with Joshua’s grain-centric veggie burgers. After giving them a try, you won't make burgers any other way.”
—Roxana Jullapat, baker and author, Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution
- On Sale
- Nov 23, 2021
- Page Count
- 368 pages