Great Grain Side Dishes

Barley, bulgur, wheat berries, couscous and more.
Image of some dried grains
Walk the grain aisle at a natural foods store or well stocked grocer and you’ll be amazed at the variety.

Yet white rice and regular pasta seem to take center stage in the majority of American grain-based recipes. Both have 5 PointsPlus™ values per cup and are typically less nutritious than many of their high-fiber, high-protein counterparts. Some grains even have fewer PointsPlus values:

Grain PointsPlus values per cooked cup
Bulgur 4
Barley 5
Wild Rice 4
Regular Couscous 4
Whole Wheat Couscous 5
Whole Wheat Pasta 4
Time to try something new
Here’s a collection of grain side dishes that can be enjoyed as they are, beefed up with protein for lunch or dinner, or stuffed and baked into large bell peppers for an exciting vegetarian entrée.

Quinoa and Spinach
Quinoa and Spinach
Although used like a grain, quinoa is actually a high-protein relative of spinach that becomes light, fluffy and translucent when cooked.
Bulgur Salad with Feta and Mint
Bulgur Salad with Feta and Mint
Bulgur is cracked wheat that has been steamed, dried and crushed. It’s a great source of fiber and rich in many B vitamins.
Couscous with Rosemary and Olives
Couscous with Rosemary and Olives
Couscous is made from crushed and steamed semolina flour. It cooks in a small amount of boiled water and is then fluffed with a fork.
Texas-Style Barley Salad
Texas-Style Barley Salad
Barley can be used just like rice in many sweet and savory dishes. It’s typically simmered and works well as hot cereal, in casseroles and in soups.
Brown Rice and Bulgur Salad
Brown Rice and Bulgur Salad
A cup of brown rice has about five times the fiber as a cup of white rice.
Wheat Berry Salad with Tomatoes and Olives
Wheat Berry Salad with Tomatoes and Olives
Wheat berries are whole kernels of wheat that have a nutty, chewy texture. They’re wonderful in hot cereal, bread and pilaf.
Warm Barley Salad
Warm Barley Salad
Barley is a great source of fiber, has a nutty taste and pasta-like consistency. It’s often sold bagged in supermarkets near the dried lentils.
Quinoa and Tomato Salad
Quinoa and Tomato Salad
Quinoa requires rinsing to eliminate the bitter taste in its outer coating. Save time by looking for a brand that’s sold pre-rinsed.

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