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Watch out for exploding grains

April 18, 2014
Pop goes the buckwheat!

Forget deep-fried croutons or salty bacon bits, when it comes to adding texture to dishes, chefs across the country are relying on popped and puffed whole grains and rice.

Just think popcorn, but done with the rest of the grains in your pantry.

Take chef Nick Curtin of the New York hotspot Rosette, who told us, “I’m really interested in creating texture in my dishes, but so many people these days are health-conscious and gluten-free.” Instead of relying on the usual menu suspects, Curtin incorporates the earthy flavors of popped grains into his food.

At Rosette, you’ll spot the trend in dishes such as wood oven-roasted cabbage with cabbage marmalade, salsify and puffed buckwheat; roasted avocado with chili yogurt, puffed rice and bonito flakes; and ember-roasted leeks with pecan butter, huckleberry jam and puffed wild rice.

At The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, the always-innovative chef Paul Berglund adds popped amaranth to beef tartar with cashew milk, horseradish, and watercress to add an extra base note to the dish.

On New York’s Lower East Side, Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner of the wellness-focused Dimes scatter popped amaranth over their lemon-anchovy broccolini with parsnips for an extra satisfying crunch.

Chef Curtin detailed for us how any cook can recreate this technique at home:

1. Locate leftover cooked rice, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat in your fridge.
2. Spread the grain out on a cookie sheet to dry.
3. Cover a pan with grapeseed oil and heat until it almost smokes.
4. Add the dry grain to the pan and cook until it pops.


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