While there are some boxed pilafs that don’t have mysterious ingredients, a whole-grain pilaf is simple to make from scratch. If the whole grain is already cooked, it’s barely a ten-minute process. These days, you can find pre-cooked whole grains in the store, on the shelf or in the freezer. If those aren’t available in your area, below are some basic proportions and cooking times. You can always cook them ahead when you have time and refrigerate for quick access.

2 cups cooked whole grain (see Notes)

  • 2 Tablespoons olives oil
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme or Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put olive oil in a medium flat sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, scallions, and red pepper (if using)

  3. Cook for 2—3 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

  4. Add whole grain and stir to mix until heated through.

  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Common whole grains are brown rice, bulgur (cracked wheat), quinoa and barley. The basic cooking method is to bring the liquid (water or broth) to boil (with/ without salt), add the grain, and cook over lowest heat until water is absorbed. Once the grain is cooked, you can use it plain, in soups, or as a pilaf.

Brown rice: 2 cups liquid, 1 cup rice; cook for 50 minutes (makes 2 cups rice).

Bulgur/cracked wheat: 2 cups liquid, 1 cup bulger; cook for 15—20 minutes and let stand for 10 minutes.

Quinoa: 2 cups liquid, 1 cup quinoa; cook for 10—15 minutes.

Barley: 2½ cups liquid, 1 cup barley; cook for 35—40 minutes.

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