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In their new cookbook Grain Mains, James Beard nominees and 20-time cookbook veterans Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough explore the world of whole grains for and at every meal. As the cover suggests, Grain Mains oﬀers “101 surprising and satisfying whole grain recipes for every meal of every day.” The book is a delightful combination of meat-friendly, vegan and vegetarian recipes organized in an unconventional yet innovative way. Instead of arranging the recipes by starters, mains, desserts etc., the authors have the book separated into “early” (hot and cold cereals), “cold,” (Wheat berry salads, rice salads, whole grain salads and not salads at all!) and “warm” (Burgers, soups and stews, casserole comfort, classics, and best of all, one called “unexpected elegance”).
The cookbook opens with a substantial introduction that begins with a basic whole grains 101 Q & A format, covering things like whole grains cutting diabetes risks, whole grains for your heart, and whole grains not breaking the bank. These are basic questions that those new to the whole grains bandwagon would have yet to learn and those already on board are eager to know more about. The introduction goes on to address “The Gluten Question,” “The Lay of the Land,” cooking whole grains, and “A Bird’s-Eye View of Our Whole Grains,” which describes each grain and breaks it down by ﬂavor, texture, history, presoaking, cooking method, and yield – brilliant! The introduction also includes great little “mini indexes” that act as shortcuts to recipes while also supplementing all of the information. My favorite was the list of “No Presoaking Required” for us on-the-go whole grain eaters!
Now onto the recipes. Each of the three sections begins with a short introduction; perhaps these were a bit too long if you’re just ﬂipping through for recipes but deﬁnitely an interesting read when time permits. Each recipe gives a make-ahead time and a “make it easier” option—for me, this approach is the highlight of the book and what elevates it above and beyond just a collection of delicious recipes. It makes the recipes really accessible and takes away the daunting aspect of a) cooking an elaborate dish and b) worrying about how long leftovers will last. Each recipe also includes ways to make the dish vegan, ways to make it a little fancier (“chef it up!”) and testers’ notes with comments on anything from texture to swap-outs to ways to store leftovers.
As I ﬂipped through the book, my stomach rumbling with each beautiful photograph, I was struck by how simple yet mouth-watering each recipe is. My favorite section of the book is “Unexpected Elegance.” The recipes in this section are indeed elegant, from the Triticale with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Anchovies to the Pumpkin-Quinoa Souﬄe (which will most deﬁnitely make an appearance on my dinner table this fall). Each recipe exudes a hearty and rustic yet elegant quality that makes you want to run out, buy whole grains and serve them up to all of your nearest and dearest on a blustery winter evening.
The recipes in Grain Mains are innovative yet familiar and the breakdown of each is incredibly helpful. This is a cookbook that every whole grain cook, old and new alike, needs to have on hand. (Mallory)
Check out a little teaser for Grain Mains!