Millet, the Little Grain with Big Potential

Millet is a small, round, gluten-free grain that cooks up light and fluffy in just 20 minutes. When cooked fresh, it has an earthy flavor and almost creamy mouthfeel. With its mild flavor and lovely sunny color, millet is an ideal grain for sweet and savory recipes.

You can find millet in the bulk bins at Whole Foods or other health-food stores. Millet has a natural, bitter-tasting coating called saponin that needs to be washed off before cooking.

Once millet is cooked, it can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Unlike other grains, millet will become solid and dry when cold and needs to be broken up and reheated before using. If you forget to soak your millet, increase water to 2 cups and cook as directed.

Basic Millet Recipe

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 cup millet, washed and soaked overnight in 2 cups water

1 3/4 cup water

Pinch sea salt

Directions:

Drain and rinse millet. Place in a small (1 1/2- to 2-quart) pot, add water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

Remove from heat and set aside covered for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

Tabouleh-Style Millet Salad

Serves 1

Millet is a great whole grain alternative to couscous in this tabouleh-like salad. For this recipe, it’s best to use the millet the days it’s cooked, as it will absorb the flavors better and have a softer texture.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of cooked and cooled millet with 1 diced tomato, 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon sliced scallions or minced red onion, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of black pepper and sea salt. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Serve or store in the fridge for up to a day.

Millet and Sweet Potato Cakes with Corn and Cilantro

Makes 8 cakes

These savory cakes make a perfect snack or meal. They can also be tucked into pita pockets with salad for a tasty lunch.

For the one cup of mashed sweet potato that you’ll need for this recipe: Peel and dice 1 medium sweet potato, steam until soft and mash with a fork. You can use fresh or frozen sweet corn in these cakes, just be sure to defrost frozen corn kernels first.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Saute 1 minced onion in 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil until browning, about 8 minutes.

Add to a medium bowl along with 1 cup cooked millet, 1 cup mashed sweet potato, 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and a large pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and season with tamari to taste.

Brush a sheet of parchment paper with melted coconut oil and place on a baking sheet. Use a 1/3-cup measure to mold millet mixture into cakes. Place on lined baking sheet, brush cakes with melted coconut oil and place in the fridge to firm up.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until browning on the bottom. Use a thin spatula to flip cakes over and bake another 10 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Citrus Millet Cereal with Nut Milk

Serves 1

Citrus, honey, cinnamon, raisins, nut milk and a golden millet background combine to create a comforting and delicious breakfast that’s perfect for any season.

If your millet isn’t freshly cooked, warm it in a small pot with a splash of water or nut milk until softened, then continue with recipe. To make fresh nut milk at home, use the recipe for almond milk in this smoothie recipe. Try replacing the almonds with raw cashews, or Brazil nuts for a different flavor.

Directions:

Place 1 tablespoon of golden raisins into a cup, cover with boiling water and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain raisins and add to a bowl.

Add 1/2 cup freshly cooked millet (warm or cooled), 1/4 teaspoon orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 teaspoons toasted sunflower seeds, 2 teaspoons toasted pumpkin seeds and a pinch of cinnamon. Stir to combine. Serve topped with nut milk and a drizzle of honey.

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Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. She blogs at amychaplin.com.

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