About one month ago, I put out my Breakfast Millet article to rave reviews. I had gotten so many emails thanking me for putting out the article and most of them requesting that I put out another one for a savory millet dish. As I am not one to disappoint may I just say…..the millet saga continues.
I seriously never get tired of talking about millet. Delicious, healthy and versatile millet is a lot like rice and can be the vehicle to transform even the most mundane dish into something exciting. To get the scoop on the health aspects and back story of millet, please refer to the previous article on millet (click here).
In my last article, I made a bold statement saying “you will find that if you look up recipes for basic millet as a savory dish on the internet, that everyone seems to say it is 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup uncooked millet (3 to 1ratio). I am here to tell you that this is WRONG.” This brazen statement still holds true. I went on to say that I do what I call “starving the grain” to make it light and fluffy every time and I added my cooking tip which was; the amount of liquid needed to cook the grain depends on your desired outcome of the dish. This is also still true, and here is why.
Just like rice, too much water and you have a goopy mess of rice that is too sticky to be separate and fluffed. Too little water and your rice will not cook all the way through. Millet is no different. I like a little give in my millet (and in my rice). I want the grains to be fluffy and separate so when you combine it with other ingredients (or eat it plain), the end result is not a big sticky mess. To accomplish this all you need to do is follow a few simple rules, and they are; rinse your grains, dry/toast your grains, leave the lid on the pot until done and do not peak….you see, that wasn’t so hard now was it?
Peaking and not rinsing are the biggest killers of grain dishes. You will notice that when you rinse your millet, that just like rice a cloudy film rinses off. If you rinse the millet under cold water a few times you will yield a much better end result after it is cooked; this also makes it easier to digest and for your body to absorb all the health benefits of the grain. Peaking is another common mistake as you are letting out the steam that the millet needs in order to cook properly.
Millet is actually one of my favorite items to serve at a party. Like a bulgur salad, it can be stretched really far when adding lots of delicious, healthy veggies to it. It’s perfect for a room temperature salad and can be made well in advance. In fact, I just had my friends, Patrice and Joy over this past weekend. They are a little more health conscious than the average person and are getting ready for the grand opening of their day spa in NJ called, Indulgence Day Spa. So, this dish was party ready and healthy to boot.
So on to it! This dish is seriously one of my favorites. I never get bored of eating it and it can be made to anyone’s particular tastes. Do you prefer dill over scallions, no problem! Do you like peas over corn, dump it in there! Today though, I am going to give my favorite recipe for warm millet salad (room temperature). So here we go!
Warm Millet Salad
- 1 cup of Millet; rinsed about 2 or 3 times and drained
- 2 cups of Water
- 1 – 8 oz pkg of Shiitake Mushrooms
- 1 orange or yellow Bell Pepper; diced
- ½ of an Onion; diced
- 1 – 15 oz can of Corn; drained
- 2 small or 1 large Scallions; green and white parts
- 1 cup of Mustard Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Basic Mustard Vinaigrette:
(Mix all ingredients below and whisk thoroughly to combine)
- 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- A pinch of Salt and Pepper
- In a large pot (or wok), add the rinsed millet and dry it out from the rinsing over a medium low heat; keep it moving in the pan so it does not burn.
- After it is dry (about 2 minutes), add 1 tbsp of olive oil and continue to stir to coat the millet for about 1 more millet; remove the pan from the heat.
- In a second large pot with a heavy or a snug fitting lid, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil.
- Add the millet to the pot or water and bring the pot back to a boil; place the cover on and lower the heat to low. Set a timer for 25 minutes (do not uncover or touch the millet again until it is done).
- While the millet is simmering; in a large sauté pan or wok, sauté the onions and bell pepper in about 3 tbsps of olive oil over a medium low heat for about 4 minutes until the peppers and onions are slightly tender.
- Now add the corn and the shiitake mushrooms to the pan and raise the heat to high and continue to cook mixture for about 3 minutes; you are only looking to warm the corn and mushrooms through at this point. After the mixture is done, set aside and cover the pan to keep warm.
- After 25 minutes when the millet is done, shut the heat off, uncover the pot and set the timer for 10 minutes (do not touch or stir the millet). This will allow the millet to dry out a bit and fluff up nicely.
- After the 10 minutes, use a fork with large tines and fluff by raking the fork through the millet.
- Dump the millet into a large mixing bowl (big enough for the millet and vegetable mixture), add the vegetable mixture to the bowl along with the scallions and gently fold to combine.
- Add all of the vinaigrette to the millet mixture with your desired amount of salt and pepper and again fold gently to combine.
- Place millet salad in the fridge for about 20 minutes so the flavors have a chance to combine.
- Take the millet out of the fridge after the 20 minutes and zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so just to bring it back to a warm temperature (but not hot).
I find that letting the millet sit for a while really allows all of the flavors to come together and to intensify. Of course you can eat the millet right after you make it without refrigeration, but the full impact of the flavors will not be present without a little resting. In fact, you can let this chill in the fridge for quite a few hours if you want to make this before hand for a party.
Crazy-delicious picture time!
Serving suggestions; this millet salad pairs really well with a fresh tomato and shallot salad on the side (as seen in the picture above). I like grape-tomatoes and shallot with a dash of balsamic vinegar and some dark green olive oil the best.
Side Note: this recipe was for a “millet salad” and not millet as a side dish like a rice pilaf. In order to get the right consistency for a dinner side dish, you would need 2 ¼ cups of water as opposed to the 2 cups of water I used for this salad recipe. My recipe above calls for the addition of a good amount of extra liquid by way of the vinaigrette. This goes back to what I said, “the amount of liquid needed to cook the grain depends on your desired outcome of the dish.”
Variation: sick of fried rice, why not make a “fried millet” instead? Use leftover plain millet just like you would rice to make a healthier version of this favorite Chinese side.
Millet For Breakfast: http://www.foodlivingandeverythingelse.com/2011/09/millet-for-breakfast.html
Indulgence Day Spa (their site may not be live just yet): Myindulgencedayspa.com
Paul Biscione is a Certified Health Counselor and owner of Healthy Xpectations. Paul is also the writer of Food Living and Everything Else (the blog): http://www.foodlivingandeverythingelse.com/ and Loving Food Again (the cookbook): http://lovingfoodagain.com/.