Growing up I was not the biggest fan of millet. In fact, I was not a fan of it at all. I thought everything about it was wrong- the taste, the texture and general mouth feel. My grain-loving mother naturally ate a lot of it. I would watch in pure wonder as she threw it in salads, fried it up with some onions or just eat in on it’s own (gahhh!). My mother never made me eat millet, but her enthusiasm for it was apparent. She loved the stuff.
As things often go, as I grew up, I grew out of my dislike of millet and started welcoming it as a grain in my pantry. A few times per year I find myself craving the grain. I mean really craving it. I can’t get the thought of it out of my head until I eat some of the stuff. I am not sure what the craving is about. It could be a nutritional need (it is a good source of iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium and B-vitamins) or maybe because it is beneficial to the stomach, spleen and pancreas (according to Chinese medicine). I find it particular. Cravings should be for fun stuff like chocolate, not something I could barely eat as a child.
Over the years I have developed a few tricks for cooking millet. The first is that I wash the grain well. I start by soaking it for a few minutes, swirl it around, massage it with my fingers and then rinse it twice. This takes away any grittiness. Next thing I do is toast it in a cast iron pan. This helps brings a deeper flavor to the millet. Millet generally is cooked in a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part grain. I cook my millet with 2 ¼ cups water to 1 cup grain. This consistently produces fluffier millet for me. Otherwise I find it to be a bit too dry. I suggest experimenting cooking millet with 2 – 2 1/2 cups water to see what you like. If you want a porridge or polenta-like dish you can up it to 3 cups water. If you have any particular tips or ways you like to cup millet, I would love to hear about them.
I was tempted to call this salad a rainbow-millet salad. It is a super colorful salad with grated beets and carrots and a mixture of herbs added to the millet. I topped it off with some radishes and apples for a bit of crunch. It has a very simple dressing to allow all these flavors to come together. I made this salad a few times- it is great for potlucks, to put in the fridge for an easy addition for lunches or can easily be bulked up some black beans, chickpeas or feta cheese for a complete meal. Enjoy!
Colourful Millet Salad
This recipe makes more millet than the salad needs. I tend to pop the extra millet in the freezer to add to a dish at a later time. For my herb mixture, I used mint, dill and parsley in this salad, but use any combination you like.
To make the millet:
- 1 cup millet
- 2 ¼ cups water
For the salad:
- 3-4 medium or 6-7 small purple beets
- 6 carrots
- 2 cups chopped herbs
- 2 cups cook millet
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the millet thoroughly. Put a cast iron-frying pan, or another frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the washed millet to the pan. Stir the millet often, allowing it to dry for 5-6 minutes. Continue stirring the millet as it toasts for an additional 5-6 minutes. Take caution to not burn the millet. Bring the 2 ¼ cups water to a boil in a small pot. Add the toasted millet and turn down the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and allow the millet to sit for an addition 10 minutes.
In the meantime wash your beets, carrots, herbs, radishes and apples. If necessary, peel your carrots and beets. Grate the beets and carrots using the large holes of a grater box. Set aside in a large bowl. Pat down the herbs with a cloth or paper towel to dry. De-steam if necessary. Loosely chop your herbs and add to the bowl with the beets and carrots. Cut the radishes in half and slice thinly. Cut your apple into quarters and remove the core. Cut into thin slices about one inch long. Add the radishes and apples to the bowl of carrots and beets. Add 2 cups of the cooked millet, making sure it is not too hot. Mix everything together well.
Juice your lemon and add, along with the ¼ cup olive oil to your salad. Mix again. Add salt and pepper to taste.