Giving Ancient Grains a Modern Touch
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A plate of colorful ancient grains used to be an anomaly in the kitchen, but is now seen as a superfood for health-conscious individuals.

Consumers who ordered quinoa in their salads or chia seeds in their smoothies were once going against the grain. But these past few years, ancient grains have seen a Renaissance, becoming popular ingredients for health-conscious foodies.
 
High in all the good stuff like nutrients, minerals, and fiber, ancient grains are the superfood on everyone’s radar. Whole and ancient grains will continue to grow in popularity as consumers increasingly seek out clean food.
 
Health benefits aren’t the only reason to add this old staple to the menu. Ancient grains are diverse and versatile, lending themselves to innovation in the kitchen. We’re going beyond adding quinoa to salads—let’s truly embrace the variety of this superfood and explore new ways to incorporate it into recipes. 

 

Diverse Grains 

 

There are more ancient grains out there than quinoa, chia seeds, and farro. Chefs can experiment with less familiar grains to diversify their menu offerings.  

 

  • Freekeh: Datassential found that only 13 percent of consumers have heard of freekeh. This North African wheat has added a nutty, smoky flavor and chewy texture to dishes across the Mediterranean and Middle East.
 
  • Teff: This tiny African grain’s chocolatey flavor makes it a delicious addition to sweet treats. It can also be used to create gluten-free breads and baked goods. 
 
  • Amaranth: Once the staple of Incan, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations, amaranth is just now finding a place on modern menus. Whether it’s used to coat fish or bake gluten-free bread, this grain provides a peppery kick to any dish. 
 
Farro, khorasan, millet, spelt: This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the ancient grains out there ready to make a splash on restaurant menus.
 
Global Inspiration 

 

While largely unfamiliar to Western palates, many ancient grains are common fare in other parts of the globe. As chefs incorporate these grains into their recipes, they can also explore putting their own spin on international dishes and ingredients. 
 
  • African Inspiration: Millet is a staple in Africa, used for pilaf and porridge in West Africa. Millet can also be used to make couscous, which can serve as a key component of salads and stews. Chefs can consider spicing up their millet and African grain recipes with harissa and other regional ingredients.
 
  • Mediterranean Inspiration: Bulgur wheat is a fixture in diets across the Mediterranean and Middle East. It can be found in Lebanese dishes such as tabbouleh, a flavorful salad, and kibbeh, a croquette that can be made from many types of meats. 
 
  • Asian Inspiration: Known as “forbidden rice,” black rice was once considered too special and nutritious for anyone outside of Chinese royalty to consume. Its dark purple color makes a strong impact on the plate, but its mild taste makes it a fitting replacement for white rice.  
 
Creative Crusts

 

Remember when people could only choose their pizza toppings? Now, consumers can personalize everything about their pizza, including the dough. The more adventurous pizzerias are experimenting with creating doughs from millet, amaranth, and other ancient grains. 
 
These grains give consumers more nutritious and gluten-free options for their pizza. Ancient grain pizza crusts also provide the perfect canvas to experiment with bold flavors, such as pesto, aged cheese, or wild mushrooms. 
 
Your Sourcing Solution 
 
Whether you’re going far out with farro or becoming enamored with amaranth, the big world of ancient grains is worth exploring. Dot Foods has a great variety of ancient grain products to inspire new recipes. 
 
Update menu items with ancient grains available at Dot.