Everyone loves grains and starches. It is hard to consider a meal complete without some sort of carbohydrate to serve as a base for the rest of the dish. But are you tired of the same old side of rice or pile of pasta? Try out some easily available yet less-used starches to add some flare and bring your dishes together more elegantly.

1. Orzo


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Orzo is an Italian pasta that is uniquely shaped like a grain of rice. It can be a little tricky to get the right softness when cooking the first few times, but this special little starch is one of the best at soaking up flavor. It’s great for pasta salads and pilafs, and can even replace rice in certain cases.

2. Israeli Couscous


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Israeli couscous may be the epitome of all pasta-like starches do it’s ability to absorb flavors and it’s fun shape. This couscous consists of much larger grains than regular couscous and results in and has a much cleaner feeling texture. The best way to prepare this wonderful grain is to first toast them in a pot for a few minutes and then add liquid for it to soak up. Add some chopped nuts, herbs, onions and garlic, or whatever you enjoy. Whether by itself or served underneath the rest of dish, you can be guaranteed to have a delicious bed of grains that you won’t want to stop eating.

3. Buckwheat


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Buckwheat is a misnomer as it is not a type of wheat at all. It actually comes from a flower and is also gluten-free. The taste is hard to describe, but it is like a combination of fruits, seeds and nuts, all while still acting beautiful as a substitute for flour. Buckwheat can be found in soba noodles, and works fantastically with pancakes, crepes and other baked goods. High in protein and many micronutrients, this grain is not only delicious, but also amazing for your health.

4. Chow Fun Noodles


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It’s hard not love these wide rice noodles, but it’s unfortunate how few people actually cook with these at home. You can easily find these at your local Asian market and they are best used the day they are bought. Never refrigerate these noodles because you will never be able to get them apart again. You can throw them in soups or stir-frys. The texture to these noodles makes them one in kind.

These are just few of the more interesting grains and starch options. You can choose to go as unhealthy or as healthy, as white or as brown or as small or as big as you wish.