Early April is when local fresh produce is finally becoming available again in DC. One of the biggest stars of the early spring season is asparagus- delicious, woody, amazing asparagus. At this time of year, my fridge is never without a fresh bunch of asparagus and I eat it nearly every day in nearly every possible way – from simply roasted with lemon, in scrambled egg sandwiches, and now in a light delicious side with my new favorite grain – millet.
I first learned about millet a few weeks ago from this post at The Kitchn. I was immediately intrigued by this whole grain that, when cooked using the method described in the post resembles couscous. Millet has a slightly nuttier flavor than couscous, and packs just a tiny bit more of a nutritional punch than couscous with higher levels of minerals and vitamins, although calorie, fat, and carb counts are essentially the same. Another benefit of millet is the variety of whats it can be used: from this pilaf like preparation, to a gluten-free breakfast porridge, or even just tossed – uncooked – into cookies, muffins, and other baked goods. With such versatility, its becoming hard for me to imagine my kitchen without this amazing grain.
This was my first time cooking millet, so I will admit it did not come out quite perfect. I tried to follow The Kitchn’s instructions, but I think I stirred my millet a bit too much and it came out a little creamier than I wanted – like risotto in its early stages (ooo there’s an idea! Millet risotto!). I also toasted my millet in a bit of oil, as if I were cooking risotto, which probably contributed to the creaminess. Rest assured, even if the grain isn’t cooked quite right, it was still amazing, tasty, and just the right dish for a hearty side with chicken or a light flavorful lunch by itself.
Warm Spring Millet Salad
Serves 3 as a light meal or 6-8 as a side dish
1 cup hulled millet
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 cup shelled English or sweet peas
1 ½ cups fresh asparagus, cut about ½-inch long
¼ cup finely chopped mint
juice of 1 lemon, about ¼ cup
3 tablespoons high quality olive oil
salt & pepper
1) Cook millet according to The Kitchn’s “Perfect Millet” instructions – and seriously don’t stir it!! It will be better that way.
2) While the millet cooks, whisk together olive oil and lemon. Add about ½ a teaspoon each of salt and pepper (you can add more later if you need to) and mint leaves. Whisk again to combine.
3) After about 30 minutes, heat about 1 inch of water in a pot large enough to fit your steamer basket. Just as water begins to boil, place steamer basket with peas and asparagus in pot and cover tightly. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus stalks.
4) Once millet has finished cooking, fluff with fork and carefully stir in cooked vegetables. Pour dressing over entire mixture and stir to coat evenly.
5) Serve warm as a light lunch or as a side dish at dinner.