By any grain, I mean pearl couscous, quinoa, barley, oat groats, buckwheat groats, rice, cracked wheat, hominy, whole rye, farro, teff, spelt, kamut, triticale, wheat berries, and more.
I have always had a hard time cooking grains properly, until Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian simplified the process considerably. It requires no measurement, but the suggestions are just to give you a rough idea. Basically, you just cover the grains with water and cook them until they are done the way you like them. It’s kind of like cooking pasta. At worst, if you overcook the grains, they’ll get mushy – but that’s better than when I tried other methods that resulted in stuck, burned grains at the bottom.
1 cup of any grain
large pinch of salt
a bit of olive oil, other oil, or butter
1. Combine the grain with a large pinch of salt and water to cover by at least an inch in a 4-6 cp saucepan (pearled barley needs a ratio of grain: water ::1:3). Bring to a boil and then bring down the heat so it bubbles gently.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grain is tender. This is a short as 7 minutes for couscous or as long as an hour or more for long brown rice and other unhulled grains. Add boiling water as needed to keep the grains covered, but as it gets closer to being done, you want only enough to keep the grains from drying out.
3. The grain is done when it tastes done (quinoa’s little tail pops out of it when it’s done, like an alarm for doneness) – whole grains will have some bite no matter what, but milled or cut grains can get mushy if you overcook them. If any water remains at the end, strain the grain.
4. Toss the grain with oil or butter (or not) – but you do want to use the oil if you are storing the grains to eat later. Otherwise they will stick together.