Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gorgeous grains

I’ve been cooking more than writing lately, finding a good balance between experimenting in the kitchen, enjoying old favourites and eating other people's food. Last weekend was a festival of grains – a millet and pumpkin pilaf one night and a quinoa and shitake mushroom dish the next. Both are ridiculously easy grains to cook, very tasty and much more interesting than say, couscous – the little pasta balls that many people mistake for a wholegrain.

These grains are wholesome and healthy, the millet pilaf can be oil free if you wish making it another great detox food.

Here’s the simple millet recipe– from a Tony Chiodo wholefoods workshop I did a few years ago.

Millet, pumpkin and almond pilaf

1 cup hulled millet
1 1/2 cups water (I used vegetable stock, made from organic bouillon powder)
1 cup of pumpkin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup onion, diced finely
1/4 cup whole almonds (on reflection, they’d be better halved or even toasted flakes sprinkled on top when serving)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely
sea salt

Optional flavourings: olive oil, lemon and ginger juice.

Rinse the millet, drain and place into a pot with the water. Add the pumpkin cubes, onions, almonds (and salt if you haven’t used stock). Bring to a rolling boil, then place on a flame deflector (heat mat – so you can cook on low heat without thinking about it) for 25 minutes. I covered the pot while doing this so it steamed. Turn the heat off and allow to rest for 5 minutes before uncovering.

You can jazz it up with a dash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon (or a little lemon zest would be nice) and some ginger juice (use one of those Japanese ceramic ginger graters which can be picked up cheaply from Asian grocery stores). Stir through with the parsley and serve.

This made a great side dish with a spicy chickpea creation the Significant Eater conjured up while I prepared the pilaf. Basically he sautéed onion, garlic, gingers and cumin, added a few vegetables, a can of chickpeas and a can of tomatoes. Then topped it up with a little vegetable stock to give it a bit more juice. He seasoned it with freshly crushed black pepper, quite a lot, that gave it heat and a delicious flavour. Both took under 3/4 of an hour to prepare and worked well together. A great piece of collaborative cooking!

Note on quantities: my notes say the pilaf serves 5, but as half of a meal the 2 of us polished off the whole lot. This recipe multiplies well so you will have no problems making larger quantities. Just remember like all grains millet swells up so use a large pot.

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Blogger Cindy said...

I've never bought millet before and this recipe looks like a great introduction to it! Michael's a pumpkin fan and I love almonds so it could easily win this household over.

8:28 pm  

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