I am going to go out on a limb here and declare it my favorite whole grain (well, it is really a seed, but we’ll just go with it). I know, I know. I’m a radical. Last night I made millet as a side for our dinner. Yet again, I was reminded how much I love it. If you have never had it, the way I like to describe millet is that it is a cross between quinoa and couscous. It tastes sort of like a nutty couscous, but it has the texture, the pop, of quinoa.
The other reason I love millet is that you can use it in so many ways! It is delicious under any sauce or stew where you might use rice, couscous, or quinoa. It is a wonderful side grain. Leftover millet can be turned into a delicious and nutritious breakfast porridge in 3 minutes. It is wonderful mixed into bread doughs and cookie batter, adding an extra crunch. It is amazing mixed into stews and soups, for an interesting texture. It is wonderful in salads (like this salmon, kale, and millet salad I had for lunch today!). You can also cook it into a thicker, polenta-style dish. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Finally, it is quick to cook! Instead of taking 40+ minutes, like brown rice, you can have millet on the table in 25, which works nicely during those 30-minute scrambles to get dinner on the table.
Just a little background on my beloved millet, it is actually a seed that has been used for thousands of years all over the world, but most especially in China and Africa. It is ground up and used in breads in India, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. It is brewed in beer in Eastern Africa. It is cooked as porridge in Eastern Europe. But around here, we usually think of it as birdseed or livestock feed, silly us. It is wonderfully good for you as this gluten-free seed is rich in fiber, iron, calcium, the all-important B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. One final perk, it is easily digestible for those with sensitive stomachs.
I know that it can be hard to try a new grain—you have to plan for it, get it at the market, prepare yourself to cook something new, and then, gasp, take a bite. I get it, I really do, I mean who hasn’t bought a bag of some new health food that ends up being disgusting, tasteless mush and then the rest of the $6.95-bag sits in the pantry passively-aggressively reminding you of your health-food failure… But here’s an encouraging secret: you can find millet in the bulk bin at your local health food store or Whole Foods. You can just take a one-cup scoop, you don’t have to buy a whole bag. That will run you, maybe, 75 cents. Now isn’t that a risk worth taking?!
So next time you make a veggie or meat stew or the next time you make some sort of main dish that needs a side, give my beloved millet a try.
The Kitchn has really helpful instructions on how to cook millet. But if that isn’t enough, here’s my recipe for Next-Morning Millet Porridge so that you can be enticed to try this amazing grain.
- Already cooked millet
- Milk (cow, soy, almond, etc.)
- Your favorite toppings for oatmeal (maple syrup, honey, dried fruit, chopped nuts, etc.)
- In a small saucepan, dump in about the same amount of millet as you would have oatmeal (after it has been cooked). Drizzle milk in so that the millet is just wet and there is a little bit of milk pooled in the bottom of the pan. Turn on the burner and cook, stirring until the milk is blended in (doesn’t need to all be absorbed) and the millet is warm (about 2-3 minutes). Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings.