You know, I love millet because of its crunchy and unique texture, its nutty aroma and flavor and well, because it's incredibly good for me. With plenty of iron and zinc and vitamins of every imaginable kind, millet is a little powerhouse of nutrition. If I had the choice, I'd choose this little tiny yellow ancient grain over rice any day.
Don't get me wrong. I love rice. Really.
I just love millet more.
Go outside. Sit on your back porch. Take a glass of tea or chardonnay with you and watch the clouds pass by. Now, look at your bird feeder. Are there any little chickadees or finches fighting for seeds and grains? How about any little yellow grains about the size of a pin head?
It should. That's millet. Some farmers call it hershey - not to be confused with the chocolate creators in Pennsylvania - and the birds love it. So do cows and sheep and goats and many, many other animals. The farmers across America grow it to feed to our animals because, you guessed it, it's cheap, easy to grow, highly sustainable and incredibly nutritious. The animals live better and longer eating millet than oats and wheat. Hmmm. We should learn from that.
So, what do you do with millet?
Well, there are lots of things you can do with millet. Make it into a flour and bake with it, which I do often. Or buy the flour and use it to thicken sauces instead of wheat flour or cornstarch for a little extra nutrient punch without any difference in flavor. Use the grain instead of rice in stuffed squashes and peppers. Make a nice side dish to complement any type of meat, poultry or fish. Use it to make a breakfast cereal with a little extra added sweetness like they do in Africa. But be forewarned, you may come to love this ancient little grain. It has been around for thousands of years and it's about to come back into style.
Baked Marinated Salmon on a bed of Herbed African Millet with Curry and Sage
4 marinated salmon fillets (I used Morey's Marinated Wild Alaskan Salmon from Costco), thawed or frozen
1 cup whole grain millet
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp rubbed sage
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp butter, natural margarine, or olive oil
3 cups water
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp honey, agave nectar or maple syrup
Salt to taste
Bake fillets according to package directions. (If cooking 4 frozen fillets, wait to start millet until fillets are about 25 minutes from being done.)
Wash millet in a fine mesh strainer under cool water until the grain runs clear about 30 seconds or so. Place millet in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add curry, sage and oregano and toast millet and spices over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
When spices become aromatic, add butter, margarine or oil until melted and mix thoroughly. Add water and salt and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook millet, stirring often, until all water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
When water is fully absorbed, remove millet from heat and stir in honey, agave or maple syrup. Add salt to taste.
Make a bed of herbed millet on each place, placing one salmon fillet on top. Sprinkle on a little parsley, if desired, and enjoy!