Millet. What? Isn’t that what we put in bird feeders? Yes actually there’s a type of millet that’s grown that Americans use for bird feed, but there’s also tons of other varieties of millet that are grown all over India, China and parts of Africa.
I can’t say that I ever ate millet in the US, but in West Africa it’s everywhere. The people eat it with yogurt, peanut butter, as a porridge and with any sauce they make. It’s cheaper here than rice, which actually makes it less preferable to eat J. In fact, a few years ago we took over 1000 lbs of millet to a village that had suffered a fire and people complained because we didn’t bring them rice!
Millet is one of those grains that most people don’t know about or at the very least forget about. It’s a shame too because it’s chock full of protein, vitamin B, iron, magnesium, zinc and other nutrients making it a very healthy alternative to rice. And it’s gluten free!
Most of the time when we’ve eaten millet here, it’s a less than pleasant experience with some unidentified crunchiness/graininess that always makes you cringe. You don’t know if you just ate was a bit of peppercorn, sand, dirt or husk. But I really want to love millet! I found this recipe for millet mixed with a walnut pesto and broccoli and knew that I’d found my solution! Toasting the millet brings out the nuttiness of the grain which pairs perfectly with the nutty pesto. Top it with some walnuts, some creamy avocado slices and a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction and it’s the perfect way to add some millet to your diet.
Millet with Broccoli and Walnut Pesto
adapted from Eden Kitchen
B gives it 3 out of 5 carrots
1 cup hulled (pearled) millet*
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed *
¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped + some for garnish
1 packed cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
⅔ cup finely grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat place 1 cup of millet and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until it smells nutty. Be careful to not let the millet burn. Add 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed 25-30 minutes*. Once done, turn off the heat and let the millet sit covered for 5-7 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
2. Meanwhile in a food processor or blender add walnuts, parsley, EVOO, lemon juice, parmesan, garlic, black pepper and salt. Pulse twice then process until well combined. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt as needed.
3. In a small saucepan of water, add broccoli and cook to warm up, about 2 minutes. Drain well.
4. Toss the millet with the cooked broccoli and 1/2 of the pesto. Taste and add more pesto if needed.
5. Serve topped with more walnuts, sliced avocado,a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or bacon if you’re a meat eater!
Super Easy Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1. In a small skillet over medium heat, add vinegar and bring to a simmer.
2. Simmer until the vinegar is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Or longer for a thicker stronger sauce.
*For the West Africans, the millet you buy in the market will take about 35-40 minutes to cook and you will probably need 3 cups of water. Make sure that it is well cleaned and hulled. I would recommend cleaning and washing it, letting it dry and then toasting it. OR you can have it ground and steam it and then follow the directions starting with the pesto.
*If using fresh broccoli (lucky you!!!), clean the florets and add to boiling water for 45 seconds. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.