Following the knife skills workshop, Ian proceeded with a grain workshop.
In this workshop, Ian introduced us to four grains, i.e. Couscous, Bulgar, Quinoa and Kasha. Ian showed us how to cook the different grains and we got to taste the texture of all the grains which is lightly dressed with olive oil and salt. Most of the grains can be cooked like pasta but the nutrients will be lost in the water. So, if you cook it the pasta way, save the water to make stocks.
A good place to buy such grains is Galloway’s Specialty Foods.
The grains are used along with some fresh vegetables, herbs, seeds and dried fruits to create a healthy multigrain salad.
The above are some of the vegetables and herbs that were prepared from the knife skills workshop.
Couscous is the easiest and quickest to prepare among the 4 grains. All you have to do is … pour boiling liquid over the grains, cover with a plastic wrap and let soak for 5 minutes. The ratio of couscous to liquid is 1:1.25. The traditional way of cooking couscous is by steaming. You can use orange juice or even beer to flavour the couscous.
Couscous comes in the form regular or whole wheat. Coucous is hard wheat that has been milled and it has high protein content.
Bulgar is wheat that has been cracked. You can cook bulgar like coucous i.e. pour boiling liquid over it, cover with saran wrap and let it soak overnight if preferred. The ratio of grain and liquid is 1:1.5. Bulgar is chewier than couscous.
Kasha is toasted buck wheat. Kasha is cooked like rice. The ratio of grain and liquid is 1:1.5. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring the cold water and kasha mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Kasha has a soft, creamy and mushy texture. It has a nutty flavour.
Ian toasted the quinoa on a dry pan to bring out the nuttiness of the grain. Toast until the grains start to pop.
Cook the quinoa with water and a pinch of salt. The ratio of grain and liquid is 1:1.25. Quinoa is also cooked like rice, i.e. bring it to boil, cover and lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Cooked quinoa is like little tadpole or comma. It is nutty and a little chewy with a crunch.
To prepare the multigrain salad, Ian combined all the prepared grains in a large mixing bowl. The first to go is the couscous. Ian rubbed the couscous to loosen the grains. He seasoned the couscous with a little good olive oil and salt as couscous has a very neutral taste. The rest of the grains were added in.
To the grains, Ian added chopped carrots, celery, parsley, apple, craisin and pumpkin seeds. Toss to mix well.
Season the multigrain salad with good olive oil and …
… some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Ian prefers a ratio of 2 parts of oil with 1 part of vinegar (lemon juice, etc). Lastly, season with sea salt to taste.
You may add beans, cheese or hard boiled eggs to make a more hearty salad. This salad can be served warm or cold.
This multigrain salad can be stuffed in pita pocket topped with some grilled chicken strips for lunch. In the workshop, Ian demonstrated how to wrap the multigrain salad in rice paper roll. The rice paper has to be dipped in warm water until it’s pliable for wrapping.
Ian, thank you for the very informational workshops.