As someone who eats a primarily vegetarian diet, beans and grains play a very important role for me in planning meals. They not only provide excellent sources of vegetarian protein, but are also full of fiber and other essential nutrients. Grains include everything from polenta, barley, and dried corn to hominy, dry cereals, and an endless variety of rices. Beans (under which I also include other legumes such as lentils) come in an equally wide variety of types. Unfortunately, I have to admit that, aside from creamy risottos and comforting hominy (a childhood favorite of mine), I have never really developed a huge passion for beans and grains; I tend to get much more excited about soups, pasta dishes and vegetables. Nonetheless, beans and grains are an incredibly healthy food group and, because of that, I am dedicated to seeking out recipes for dishes that go beyond my expectations and cause me to re-evaluate my outlook on these dried goods. Those are the recipes that I have included in this section. Whatever your own opinion of beans and grains is, try my recipes and you will not be disappointed!

Anasazi Beans
"Anasazi beans are cooked with coriander seeds and juniper berries in this simple but unusual dish. The juniper berries add an intriguing pine scent to the broth that is reminiscent of the American Southwest."

Arroz Verde
"In this dish, rice is flavored simply with onions and herbs and then cooked slowly in milk resulting in a creamy, mellow treat that acts as a nice counterpoint to any spicy Mexican meal Strips of roasted poblano chilies make a festive garnish."

"Chole is a popular Indian stew made with spiced chickpeas. In this version, the chickpeas are cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and exotic Indian spices; the aromas that come from the pan when you add the spices are incredible!"

Curried Rice Salad
"In this gorgeous dish, vibrant yellow basmati rice is flavored with curry powder and combined with colorful vegetables, rich nuts, and sweet currants. These wonderful flavors are brought together by a simple lime vinaigrette."

French Lentils in Red Wine
"French herbs, sun dried tomatoes, and lots of red wine come together in this lentil side dish. The rich, meaty flavor of these lentils matches perfectly with other robust comfort foods such as mashed potatoes or grilled tuna."

Hominy and Squash Stew
"In this unique Mexican stew, sweet butternut squash and hominy are cooked together with herbs and chili powder. A topping of sour cream is all that is needed to finish the dish."

Jamaican Rice and Peas
"Beans and rice are cooked together in mildly spiced coconut milk creating an incredibly rich and creamy (and nutritionally complete) meal in one."

Jumbo Greek Beans
"This is a Greek specialty featuring extra large lima or broad beans cooked forever in a rich tomato sauce. Amazing!"

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
"Quinoa, a staple food of the Incas of South America during ancient times, is a soft and delicate grain with a slight crunch. In this recipe, quinoa, black beans, corn and bell pepper are tossed with a cumin-lime dressing and chopped fresh cilantro creating a delicious and healthy Mexican-inspired dish."

Risotto con Finocchio
"Fresh fennel, pine nuts and creamy cheese combine to make this risotto dish a winner. The lacy fronds from the fennel are added to the risotto at the end of cooking to add a touch of sophistication."

Spiced Basmati Rice
"Prized for its special nut-like aroma and beautiful long, slender grains, basmati rice always makes a wonderul base for flavorful curries. In this recipe, onion and cumin seeds add touches of flavor while butter adds richness, creating a special rice dish that can stand all on its own."

Tuscan White Beans
"A traditional dish from the Tuscany region of Italy, white beans are humbly flavored with garlic, fresh sage and olive oil. The ultimate in simplicity!"

Vegetarian Baked Beans
"Boston baked beans are an American classic. In this vegetarian version, slow cooking deepens the flavors of the tomatoes, molasses and mustard, creating a rich and simple side dish."

Wild Mushroom Risotto
"This creamy risotto is made special by the addition of quickly seared wild mushrooms. Chanterelle, hedgehog, oyster, shitaake and crimini mushrooms are all delicious in this dish which is just a good for an average weeknight as it is for a fancy holiday party."



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