Legumes Grains Pasta and Other Starches

his chapter continues the discussion of starchy foods. The previous chapter focuses on a fresh vegetable, the potato, one of the most important starches on European and North American menus. This chapter, by contrast, discusses preparations based on dried foods: legumes and grains.

For most of human history—and prehistory—grains have been the most important source of nutrients and calories to sustain life, and this remains true today in many parts of the world. For example, in parts of Asia, rice is eaten at nearly every meal. In Japan, the standard words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be translated as "morning rice," "noon rice," and "evening rice."

In many regions, dried beans, eaten together with rice, are a more common source of protein than meat or fish. Dried legumes are actually matured, dried versions of some of the fresh vegetables discussed in earlier chapters and are not immediately thought of as starches. However, they do have a high starch content and, because of their dried nature, are handled much like grains.

Pastas and noodles are important starchy foods made from grains, usually wheat, but also rice and other grains. In this chapter we look primarily at the noodle products inherited from Italian cuisine, but we also learn about noodles from other cuisines.

After reading this chapter, you should be able to

1. Distinguish the major types of dried legumes.

2. Cook dried legumes.

3. Distinguish the major types of rice.

4. Distinguish the major types of other grains used in food service.

5. Prepare grains by simmering and by the pilaf and risotto methods.

6. Distinguish major kinds and shapes of commercial pasta and determine their quality.

7. Prepare fresh and commercial pasta products, and list the steps involved in the alternate steam-table method of its preparation.

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