9 ways to top whole grains

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

There's always a lot to learn from those in the generation younger than you. Below you'll find some simple and quick recipes my son shared with me for sauces to use on pasta or other grains. 

I have cooked my own version of many of these in the past so can attest to their tastiness but some are new to me also. Using whole grain pasta, quinoa, farro, or beans turns them into a nutritious meal.

Obviously, fresh tomatoes and any other fresh ingredients you can find at your farmers' market in season would make them even better. If you are watching your salt, remember there's salt in canned tomatoes. The salt in clam sauce pasta can be reduced by using fish stock or more white wine rather than clam juice. If you are used to following recipes, this is a chance to experiment using the cooking experience you've had and use whatever amounts of each ingredient that seem right to you. There is no right way.

Because of the variable amounts of contents, the nutritional analysis won't be provided for these dishes. A good simple rule is to use more vegetables than the grains or proteins on each plate.

  • Heat olive oil with a lot of sliced garlic and red chili flakes. Throw in a handful of freshly chopped herbs and serve. Sauté onions and garlic. Add a small can of diced tomatoes with their juice and a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar. Simmer briefly to thicken, stir in chopped parsley, and serve.
  • Sauté onions and garlic. Add a small can of diced tomatoes with their juice, some capers, chopped olives, red chili flakes, and parsley.
  • Sauté onions and garlic. Add a splash of white wine, clam juice, and canned clams. Finish with chopped parsley and lemon juice.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté a handful of coarsely chopped cauliflower until slightly browned. Add red chili flakes, bread crumbs, parsley, and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Brown ground turkey in a pan. Add finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook to soften. Add a splash of red wine, a can of diced tomatoes, a little water, and simmer until thicken. Finish with freshly chopped thyme, parsley, or oregano.
  • Sauté some chopped zucchini and eggplant. Add some minced garlic and drained diced tomatoes. Toss with a handful of basil leaves.
  • Sauté some diced prosciutto or black forest ham. Add some garlic and minced red onion. Toss with drained, diced tomatoes and a handful of baby spinach.
  • Sauté some shallots and garlic with canned artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained. Add a splash of white wine and some red chili flakes. Finish with freshly chopped herbs, like parsley, thyme, or chervil.