Let me start by admitting I’ve not often cooked with millet in the past. When perusing the ancient super grain section of the bulk bins, I mostly gravitate toward the quinoa (especially red quinoa), occasionally amaranth, sometimes buckwheat, but very rarely millet. I think on some level the knowledge that I could also pick some up in the bird food section of my local pet food store has had something to do with my hesitation.
But recently this little yellow grain has crept its way into my cooking and I’ve become quite the fan. While unfamiliar to some, millet is a gluten-free grain that’s used widely throughout the hot and dry parts of the world. It has a light nutty, savory taste, and when lightly toasted prior to cooking, it takes on a delicious cashew-like flavor. I love to cook it so it is light and fluffy – perfect for warm salads and couscous-like dishes.
For this dish I eagerly wanted something salad-like that would celebrate the end of the long, cold winter we’ve had down here. Although, it’s probably premature to declare spring has sprung because it’s still more than a tad chilly outside. I decided millet would be perfect as it’s often celebrated for the warming effect it has on the body. The recipe is relatively simple: I took some fluffy millet and tossed it with crunchy broccoli and a flat-leaf parsley and walnut pesto, then topped it off with a handful of toasted walnuts and sliced avocado.
Warm Millet & Broccoli Recipe
1 cup hulled (pearled) millet
2-3 cups broccoli florets
¾ cup plus ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 packed cup flat leaf parsley
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
⅔ cup finely grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic
fine ground sea salt
Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid over high heat. Place 1 cup of millet into the pot and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until it smells deliciously toasty and cashew-like. Be sure the millet doesn’t brown. Carefully add 2 cups boiling water and ½ teaspoon salt. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot. Simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, 20-25 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff immediately with a fork. Set aside.
To cook the broccoli, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add a couple big pinches of sea salt. Add the broccoli and cook for about 30 seconds – just long enough for the colour to change to bright green. Quickly drain and run under cold water for 20 seconds to stop it cooking further.
In a food processor, combine ¾ cup walnuts, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan, garlic, and a big pinch of sea salt. Process until well combined. Taste and adjust salt or lemon juice as you desire.
Toss the millet with cooked broccoli and ¾ of the pesto. Taste and add more pesto if you think it needs it. Top with remaining walnuts.
- sliced avocado
- crumbled feta
- lightly toasted karengo fronds or dulse