In the infinitely pleasurable quest to explore the world of whole grains, millet got to the top of the list. I love its mild, slightly corn-like flavor, and its light crunch even when cooked (though with more time and more liquid it can become much softer, if that’s the desired texture). It definitely doesn’t get the kind of attention that popular girls quinoa and farro and bulgur get….but it definitely deserves more love.
This Millet and Greens Salad is so satisfying, with a chewy toothsomeness from the millet, and loads of green from the arugula, basil and asparagus. Dried cherries are my go-to dried fruit. Yeah, they are a bit pricey, but I just adore their sweet tart flavor, and the bigger chew (bigger than dried cranberries). But play with other dried fruits, chopping them up if they are larger than nibble size. If you want to add some toasted dried pine nuts I’m sure that would be a great add-in. Or sunflower seeds.
The asparagus is just barely blanched (which means quick cooked in boiling water, then quickly rinsed or dunked in cold water to stop the cooking). This allows it to keep its crunch. It’s sliced pretty small so it can blend in with the millet, but keep the tips of the asparagus whole because that looks awesome.
The dressing is rich and tangy with sherry or red wine vinegar and Dijon. You can serve this Millet and Greens Salad up as a side, but because millet has so much to offer it also can serve as a vegetarian main course. And I do love me a good side that double as a center stage dish for the vegetarians in my world (and I have a lot of vegetarians in my world—my sister, my mom, my niece, and a large smattering of friends).
What is Millet?
Millet is an ancient grain gluten-free grain from the Far East, Northern China to be specific, and Africa. Millet has a mild flavor and cooks up quickly, making it a tasty, convenient, whole grain to think about for meals all throughout the day.
How to Prepare Millet
Like most grains, before cooking millet rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. The general guideline for cooking is to add one part millet to 2 ½ parts liquid, either broth or water. Bring the millet and liquid to a boil in a pot, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes to get a fluffy-rice like textured millet. To impart a nuttier flavor to the grain, before you combine it with the liquid place the grains in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir them frequently to toast them. When they turn golden, after about 2 minutes, add them to the boiling cooking liquid.
What Can You Substitute Millet For?
Millet can easily be substituted in for rice or barley in soups and stews.
How Much Millet Does 1 Cup Raw Millet Make?
You will get about 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked millet for every cup of raw millet.
Do You Need to Soak Millet?
Soaking grains in general makes them more digestible, and allows them to soften and cook faster. It’s not necessary, but it will get you to softer and faster cooked millet. Sometimes, as with this salad, a bit of crunch os preferable, so taste the millet as you cook it. If you want to slightly toast your millet before cooking it (see above), you can either do that while the millet is raw and unsoaked and uncooked, or after you soak and drain it.
Is Millet Healthy?
Millet is rich in B vitamins, calcium, zinc and iron. It has 6 rams of protein and about 200 calories per cup of cooked millet.
Is Millet Gluten-free?
Greens and Grains
For the past many years, I have been loving the idea of combining cooked whole grains and a variety of leafy vegetables with other cooked vegetables, and often some dried fruit or crumbled cheese. This kind of combination makes a hefty salad that is great for lunch or dinner, as a main course, or a side dish. You may have noticed a salad or two (or 10) like this on the blog.
And of course if you cook the grains in vegetable broth or water, you have a vegetarian dish, great when you want to make sure a meal had some substantial vegetarian offering that can double as a side dish or share the plate as a main.
If you like the greens and grains combo in this Millet and Greens recipe as much as I do, try:
- Tomato, Zucchini and Bulgur Salad, Vegetable and Brown Rice Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing
- Red Quinoa Salad with Arugula
- Artichoke Hearts, and Olives
- Sesame-Honey Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Sliced Avocado.
Millet and Greens Salad
- Kosher or coarse salt to taste
- 2 cups sliced asparagus about ½–inch pieces, bottoms trimmed and peeled if necessary (leave the tips whole, even though they will be more than 1/2 inch long)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup sherry or red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup minced onion
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups baby arugula or roughly chopped larger leaves
- ½ cup slivered fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 2 cups cooked millet cook according to package directions
- Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, add salt, and add the asparagus. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the green color.
- Whisk together the oil, vinegar, onions, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooled asparagus, arugula, basil, cherries and millet. Toss everything to combine with the dressing and serve at room temperature.
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