There's a whole world of grains to be popping, and we've all been stuck on corn. Sure, popped corn is great, but so is sorghum and quinoa and even barley. That's right friends, you can pop pretty much any grain that's sitting in your pantry -- and you should.
Not all popped seeds and grains will have the same magical outcome as popped corn with its soft, airy shell, but many of them will be just as delicious, whether eaten out of hand or used as an ingredient in your kitchen. FYI: most grains don't exactly pop like corn kernels do when you apply heat, so the more appropriate term is "puffed" because, well, the grains puff up with the application of heat.
If you're new to the world of puffed grains, you should begin your journey with sorghum. Sorghum, the ancient grain that's so popular in the South, acts the most like corn kernels when heated. It will actually pop into a soft, white snack -- although it is slightly smaller than what you get with popped corn.
Once you feel comfortable with the idea of popping something other than corn, start branching out. Amaranth seeds pop really nice and even quicker than popcorn. Its small size makes it a great ingredient to incorporate into baked goods. You can even turn it into a healthy breakfast cereal.
Quinoa is another grain that pops small but rounds out with big flavor. Puffed quinoa will make a popping sound when cooked but doesn't really look any different. The difference, however, lies in the flavor. Puffed quinoa has a lighter texture and nuttier taste. It's great baked into healthy desserts, on top of salads or as a cereal alternative.
Once you've got amaranth and quinoa popped, you can really start to experiment with grains and seeds like barley, wheat berries and millet. So put down the corn, and start popping (er, puffing) -- all the chefs are doing it. (If you have no idea how to pop anything, watch the video below.)