It is so satisfying to cook a dish you have learned by heart. A little know-how saves time, reduces stress, and frees you to be more creative. Whether you are learning how to make crispier, faster chicken(Opens in a new window), creamier beans(Opens in a new window), fearless squash(Opens in a new window) or eggs(Opens in a new window), this repertoire of how-tos gives you confidence to add personal style and hopefully makes life tastier.
The next recipe to tackle? Learning how to cook grains. The variety of grains to try are endless: White rice, brown rice, basmati rice, farro, barley, bulgur, Arborio rice, we could go on and on. They’re great staples to have in your pantry(Opens in a new window) – they make a good side to protein(Opens in a new window), the main staple in pilafs and grain bowls(Opens in a new window) or the unsung hero of your weekly meal prep lunches(Opens in a new window).
You could spend hours scouring the internet for methods for cooking each type of grain, or you can take an easier approach: boiling grains. Here's how to cook whole grains using this easy technique.
Step 1: Bring 5 cups of salted water to a boil (about 1 tsp of Kosher salt).
Step 2: Rinse grains with a rice and grains colander(Opens in a new window).
Step 3: Add 1 cup of the grain (using this measuring cup(Opens in a new window)) of your choosing and cover the pot.
Step 4: Once the water returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until grains are tender. This ranges from 10 minutes to 25.
Step 5: Drain any extra liquid with a collapsible colander(Opens in a new window) and let cool.
Step 6: Fluff with a fork, serve or let cool and store in an airtight container.
For rice like basmati, jasmine, brown the same general rules apply: rinse, boil, add grain, simmer, drain extra liquid, fluff, but the ratios tend to change. Check packaging for exact water to grain ratios.
Tips for How to Cook Grains
It’s a good idea to give your grains a quick rinse with a rice and grain colander(Opens in a new window) before cooking. This will get rid of extra starch and help keep them from getting mushy.
Adding salt(Opens in a new window) to the water will bring more flavor.
Pick a big pot when cooking grains. Water will boil, grains will expand. You want to make sure you have enough room.
For a nuttier end result, toast your grains before boiling them. Add them to a heated pot for a minute or two. This will bring out that nutty flavor. Don’t let them hang out for too long or else they can burn.
Add spices like curry, turmeric or saffron while your grains, especially rice, are cooking. It will add flavor and depth to the final dish.
Let it Rest
It’s important to let your grains rest after they’re done cooking. This will allow them time to firm up.
Don’t Forget the Fluff
After your grain has rested for 5 - 10 minutes, give it a fluff with a fork to add volume.
Cooked grains can last in your fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Freeze them in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Want more help? Try these cauliflower rice ideas(Opens in a new window) and tips for storing leftover rice(Opens in a new window).