Focus on packing in carbs with these filling bowls Culture

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  • Thinking outside the bread box: Falafel is made from chickpeas, ground and combined with spices, fried and served as pita bread or salad at Cedar Mediterranean.

A friend of mine – who shall remain anonymous – likes to kill pasta by overcooking it until it almost falls apart and there’s nothing that makes it feel like food. He once joked about it al dente it’s Italian for “Oh my teeth” and as someone with Italian blood – my mother is Genoese – it offends my senses and makes me cringe.I have strong opinions about how to cook pasta. But this carb-celebrating, grain-based meal collection explores the wonderful world of whole grains, not just the Italian dishes you’ll find in Rochester eateries right here. There’s a lot to love here – curry rice, gravy-drenched tortillas, and good American mac and cheese.

Grains carry a lot in a meal, providing versatile substance and texture as a backdrop to any other fruit of the farm, be it animal or vegetable. But as I said, they still need to be well prepared. While low-carb diets have given whole grains a bad name, we’re here to celebrate these grain-based comfort foods and shamelessly point out some unique dishes around town.


Wood manicotti
Merchant’s Wood Fired Pizza & Bistro (564 Merchants Road,
On a menu filled with Italian, carb-heavy classics that include all manner of arancini, bruschetta, pizza and pasta, Merchant’s seemingly simple but mouth-watering manicotti shines. At $19, the price tag is exceptionally steep, but you get two huge manicotti shells bursting with a chewy brick oven-baked ricotta mixture drenched in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. and served with garlic toast points. Bite into the herby cloud of toothsome pasta and ricotta, and you’ll feel the indulgence is worth the cost. The manicotti is hearty, but carnivores can add house-made meatballs for $3 each.

If you’re craving a meal but the bistro is closed, you can recreate it at home with four-cheese ravioli or ricotta gnocchi at Merchant’s sister restaurant, The Pasta Shoppe (277 N. Winton Road,, where Merchant gets all its fresh pasta. All delicate spaghetti, fusilli, bucatini and more. prepared fresh daily. You can also find frozen products and a variety of sauces and herbal oils.

Salty bread
Amazing Grains Bread Co. (1000 Turk Hill Road, Fairport.
As for the Rochester, a perfect loaf of bread has a slightly buttery, chewy crust, a delicately sweet, fluffy center, and a sprinkling of sparkling coarse salt. Amazing Whole Grain Salty Bread is a local staple—so popular that it has its own page on the company’s website. It’s a great choice for buttering or dipping into your main kitchen bread. Its oblong shape makes it easy to pack for a picnic, and it’s great for breaking apart and dipping into stews or making hoagies or pizza.
You can buy bread directly from Amazing Grains or find it at dozens of retailers in the area, including Abundance Food Co-op and various farmers markets. It’s also on the menu at a number of local restaurants and food trucks.

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An Amazing Grains worker prepares the dough for the company's popular salty bread, which can be found at small businesses and diners around town.  - FILE PHOTO

  • An Amazing Grains worker prepares the dough for the company’s popular salty bread, which can be found at small businesses and diners around town.

Falafel pita or plate
Cedar Mediterranean Restaurant (746-A Monroe Ave., 442-7751)

There is some debate about the classification of chickpeas as a grain. They’re a legume, but because of the way they’re used in cuisines around the world and their versatility as a flour alternative, they’re considered one of the 40 “grain legumes,” which include a variety of beans. , lentils, etc.

That makes them grainy, right? Right. I think they look their best as falafel – mashed with fava beans and mixed with Lebanese spices, fried and rolled into small balls in sandwiches, salads and on their own chilled with tahini dressing. For my money, the best place to get falafel in town is Cedar Mediterranean, where you can order their house-made, warm falafel ($6.50) as an appetizer, pita bread with greens, tomatoes, pickles and tahini sauce. $7.50) or as a combo plate, with hummus (nuts the other way!), pita wedges, and Greek salad or rice ($12.99). While you’re at Kedar, try something from the manakesh menu, which includes shawarma or gyros, fresh, chewy Lebanese flatbread topped with meats, spices, cheeses and vegetables ($5.25 to $8.50).

Abyssinian specials with injera
Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant (1657 Hope Ave.,
Injera is a spongy Ethiopian flatbread made from teff that grows in the highlands of Ethiopia and has little or no gluten in the finished product, with a yeast-like flavor. It is used to flavor and season meats, lentils and vegetables and is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine.

A great way to experience injera is to order one of the Abyssinian specialties ($14.75 to $16.25). They include a variety of beef, chicken, lamb and vegetable dishes doro tibs (garlic-ginger chicken breast), Ebeg is gone (tender lamb marinated in onion, garlic and turmeric sauce), something (spicy ground beef with vegetable oil and fat cheese) or built gomen (cabbage with turmeric, onion and garlic). The restaurant has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and you’ll want to munch on any satisfying bite with bread.

Mushroom pizza
Nocino Bar and Restaurant (818 Eastview Mall,
Nocino’s Italian kitchen offers a good take on greens and beans (they come with Tuscan kale, prosciutto, and cherry peppers), as well as calamari, shellfish, and cured meats. But the highlight of their 10-inch pizza menu is the Funghi ($19), which offers a delightful, surprising blend of deep, earthy notes and light sweetness. This is achieved through a combination of wild mushrooms and truffle oil topped with wild mushrooms and sausage and a crunchy, chewy, thin-crusted creamy font cheese. Give this tomato-mozzarella-butter pepperoni dish a twist and give it a spin. Nocino also offers gluten-free crusts.


Good Rice: Somali African Food (480 W. Main St., 445-0042) offers curry chicken (or goat), rice and salad for $11-$12. The long grain rice is marinated in a spicy broth that elevates it on the mild starchy side.

Sending Noodles: Seasons’ Noodle specializes in handmade noodles. (50 Chestnut St. C201,

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY’s Life Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]

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