Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Feed your appetite for cooking with Penguin’s expert authors

penguin logo

What to cook with grains

by Genevieve Halbert

published on 18 March 2020

Affordable, nutrient-dense, and long-lasting, whole grains are incredibly useful in everyday cooking. Whether simmered in a stew, toasted and sprinkled on a salad, or served as an accompaniment to a main dish, grains do an excellent job of absorbing flavours while providing substance and nutrition. Read on for some of our favourite grain-based dishes, including a comforting pearl barley risotto and a Chinese-inspired fried quinoa dish.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Bulgur Mejadra

Bulgur Mejadra (Mjaddarat el Burgul) from Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley

A classic Middle Eastern comfort dish, mejadra is a vegan-friendly mix of lentils, grains, and spices, topped with irresistibly crispy fried onions. This recipe from Ottolenghi collaborators Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley uses bulgur wheat, but you also use freekeh or rice. 

From the book

Melissa Hemsley

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Ancient Grain Soup

Ancient Grains Soup from Souping by DK Publishing

Amaranth, quinoa, and freekeh bring a robust texture, a comfortingly earthy flavour, and a whole load of nutrients to this rich tomato soup.

Get your copy of Souping here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Pearl Barley Risotto

Toasted Pearl Barley Risotto from The Little Swedish Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

“Pölsa” is a northern Swedish dish much like risotto, but made with pearl barley rather than rice. In this version from Rachel Khoo, mushrooms are added to the recipe, but the dish would also be excellent topped with a crispy fried egg.

Get your copy of The Little Swedish Kitchen here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Melissa Hemsley Fried Quinoa

Chinese Fried Quinoa with Spicy Garlic Sesame Oil from Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feel-good Food by Melissa Hemsley

An ideal way of using up any leftover cooked quinoa, this spicy, flavour-packed dish from Melissa Hemsley requires just a few minutes of prep, and is great alternative to takeaway.

Get your copy of Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feel-good Food here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Bulgur & Chickpea Salad

Bulgur and Chickpea Salad (Safsouf) from Arabesque by Claudia Roden

A simple, rustic salad, this recipe from Claudia Roden is ideal as a fresh-tasting lunch that will keep you going all afternoon. 

Get your copy of Arabesque here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Quinoa & Chia Seed Bread

Quinoa and Chia Bread from Naturally Sassy: My recipes for an energised, healthy and happy you by Saskia Gregson-Williams

A gluten-free loaf, made with quinoa and chia and enriched with honey, lemon, and seeds. There's no yeast involved, so it couldn't be easier to make, and it freezes well too – just slice it, bag it, and store in the freezer for toasting at a later date. 

Get your copy of Naturally Sassy here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Roasting Tin Sweet Potato & Spelt

One-tin Spelt with Chorizo, Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Spinach from The Roasting Tin: Deliciously Simple One-Dish Dinners by Rukmini Iyer

This flavourful one-tin recipe from Rukmini Iyer requires minimal effort – just toss everything in the tin and let the oven do the work! Pearl barley would work equally well, in place of spelt, and if you don't have fresh spinach try using frozen or adding some cauliflower along with the sweet potatoes.

Get your copy of The Roasting Tin here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Ottolenghi Barley Risotto

Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

If you're looking for a crowd pleaser look no further – this rich tomato and barley risotto topped with marinated feta will be a hit with the whole family. Feel free to use dried thyme, rather than fresh, and to omit the fresh oregano if necessary – it will still taste great!

Get your copy of Jerusalem here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Quinoa & Broccoli Salad

Black Quinoa and Broccolini Salad from Five Ingredients, Ten Minutes by Jules Clancy

This tasty 5-ingredient recipe is a great template, and can be easily adapted to suit the contents of your fridge and store cupboard. Instead of black quinoa, you could use any other cooked grain, and instead of broccolini, you could use regular broccoli (fresh or frozen), tenderstem broccoli, or asparagus. Meanwhile the nuts can be switched out for goats cheese, parmesan, mozzarella, or crispy fried bacon. 

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Jamie Oliver Beef & Barley Stew

Beef and Guinness Stew with English Mustard and Pearl Barley from Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver

Pearl barley makes a great addition to most soups and stews – it bulks them up, absorbs flavour, and adds texture. This beef stew from Jamie Oliver uses lean skirt steak, braised slowly until it's melt-in-the-mouth tender. It's a hearty and comforting dish, and one that could easily be portioned up and stored in the freezer. 

Get your copy of Super Food Family Classics here.

Easy Grain Store Cupboard Recipes | Quinoa Porridge

Quinoa Porridge from At My Table by Mary McCartney

Quinoa porridge is an excellent alternative to traditional oat porridge, and will provide you with an extra protein boost at breakfast. This recipe is a great base for any toppings you might want to add, including nuts, fruits, and even chocolate chips.

Get your copy of At My Table here.


You might also like

View all


Baking Basics with Nicola Lamb: How to make perfect custard

Nicola Lamb, baking expert and author of SIFT, shares her essential tips for making custard from scratch.

Recipe Collections

10 easy Indian vegetarian recipes

From moreish starters to hearty curries and centrepieces, find the best vegetarian Indian dishes you’ll want to make at home.


Homemade ice cream recipes without a machine

Get into the spirit of summer and make ice cream at home with these no-churn recipes. From raspberry ripple to matcha to toasted marshmallow, these inventive ice creams don’t need an ice cream maker.


Subscribe to The Happy Foodie email newsletter

Get our latest recipes, features, book news and ebook deals straight to your inbox every week