Pantry Staples —SCB

This week we headed out to Bob’s Red Mill to replenish our pantry (we are lucky to have their headquarters nearby, but you can buy their products all over the U.S.). As I was unpacking my haul, I thought it might be fun to share some of our pantry staples. We buy a wide variety of goods in bulk, but I thought I’d concentrate on some of the grains and dried legumes in this post.

A note on storage: I store small portions my grains and legumes in air-tight glass jars. I find that when things are visible, I am much more likely to use them. Anything left over goes into our chest freezer where it stays fresh and free of grain-hungry pests.

1. Millet. We’ve really only added millet to our repertoire this year. It adds a great crunch to baked goods (I recommend the Millet Muffins from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day). You could also use it in place of the quinoa in my Sweet and Crunchy Nut and Seed Clusters.

2. Wheat berries. Chewy and nutty, cooked wheat berries are great warm or cold. I have a recipe for a wheat berry salad with asparagus and leeks in the spring issue of 3191Q.

3. Barley. It takes a while to cook, but barley makes for a hearty side. Put the leftovers in soup or in a salad. We love this very simple chicken and barley soup recipe (I usually just make it with the bones and leftover meat of a roast chicken).

4. Rice. Besides the standard brown and white rice, we buy this sweet white rice as a treat. It’s sticky and sweet. Use it for sushi or rice balls or cook it with coconut milk and sweetener and serve with fruit.

5. Pearled (Israeli) couscous. Not so much a grain, but a grain product. This is a real favorite with my kids. They have always called it ‘big balls’ (ahem) to differentiate it from the finer couscous.

6. Polenta/grits. I prefer the southern white grits (I have been to Georgia, North Carolina and Texas in the past few months, but somehow never came home with some good southern grits), but Bob’s Red Mill polenta is second best.

7. Beans. We love all kinds around here. Home cooked beans are truly easy and so much better and more economical than canned. This video has some great bean-cooking tips. I cook up big batches and then freeze them in pint jars. We use them in burritos, soups, stews or to make bean burgers and dips. Beans and rice is my son’s favorite after-school snack.

8. Split peas. Love ’em. You can find my split pea soup with three variations in the winter issue of 3191Q.

9. Lentils. I love the tender red lentils for dal and soups (this recipe is simply perfect) and the french green lentils when I’m feeling fancy, but these standard brown lentils are a real workhorse in my pantry. They are inexpensive, cook up quickly and can be used in a variety of ways. This time of year, I like to make cold lentil salads with diced vegetables, crumbled cheese and a vinaigrette

(At Bob’s Red Mill)