This past week, I went to a Chopped Canada screening party for Calgary competitor, Steve Glavicich. It was nice to see a bar full of folks cheering him on. Although he didn’t take home the big cash prize, he was definitely vibrant throughout the episode.
Of all the mystery ingredients that popped up throughout the challenges, millet stuck out to me the most. If you have a pet bird at home, like I do, you’ll know that they generally go crazy for a sprig or two of millet. It wasn’t until a few years that I found out it was a mildly popular ingredient in the kitchen and was gluten-free, no less! Gluten-sensitive folks, rejoice! But please buy millet for humans, the stuff for the birds still has the indigestible outer hull.
When cooked, millet has a really neutral flavour and a textural consistency somewhere in-between couscous and quinoa. I tend to shy away from quinoa in savoury dishes because I find it has that breakfast-y, cereal sort of taste. Millet is also fairly inexpensive when compared to quinoa; I’m all about finding a balance between deliciousness and budget. Although millet won’t get you exactly the same consistency in this recipe as going with Arborio rice, the traditional choice for a risotto, it still is a rich, filling meal using an interesting little grain typically sidestepped for more mainstream choices.
When cooked and cooled, millet holds its integrity well, making it a great addition to salad if you’re looking for something lighter for lunch. As far as health properties go, it’s a decent source of protein, calcium and Vitamin B. Less millet for the birds and more for us humans, I say!
Millet, Kale and Lemon ‘Risotto’
Total cook time: 35 min
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ granny smith apple, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 cup uncooked millet
1 cup torn kale leaves
1 cup fresh spinach, well-packed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the stock and half and half into a medium pot and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Reduce to low heat to keep warm.
2. Heat the canola oil on medium-high heat in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes.
3. Add the diced apple and paprika and let cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Place the millet, kale and spinach into the pan, stirring well to incorporate. Reduce to medium heat and let cook until millet has absorbed excess liquid and oil, about 1 minute.
5. Take 1 cup of the hot stock mixture and add it to the pan, stirring regularly. Once the liquid has been absorbed by the millet, add another cup of hot liquid.
6. Continue this process of adding and stirring until the millet has soaked up all of the liquid and the consistency is thick and creamy, about 18-20 minutes
7. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and parmesan and let cook for another 3 minutes.
8. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!
Watch Chopped Canada Episode 4: All’s Fair in Cooking and War
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