Sweet and Savory Millet Pilaf
I drafted up and made this recipe quite awhile ago, back when the days grew dark by five o’ clock and the thermostat in the house just couldn’t seem to keep up with the chill of the winter air. A big warm plate of Sweet and Savory Millet Pilaf was just the thing to have back then. It’s a shame, really, that it’s taken me this long to get the post dusted off and polished for your visit. A few cold days may still be ahead of us, but winter and her warm hearty dishes are on their way out. I know my mind is certainly drifting towards bright blue skies with cottony clouds drifting on balmy breezes, all of which I’ll deliciously enjoy while laying on my back in warm sweetly scented green grass that tickles my knees. Mmmmmm…
Not to distract from this lovely dish a second longer lest the seasons change permanently even as I type, let me tell you about this pilaf. It too, like the harbingers of spring, is full of rich aromas – heady cinnamon and nutmeg combining with bright ginger and orange. The millet is a wonderful ancient grain that really doesn’t get enough face time, both in my kitchen and in modern cooking in general. It has a nutty flavor that completes this dish in a way that rice or orzo never could.
Ah, and let’s not forget the stars of the show: carrots and cherries. The carrots are of the dwindling bunch harvested from my garden last fall. Cut into “coins”, they both brighten and lighten the final dish. The cherries, dried by and procured from a local fruit vendor at the Headhouse Market last summer, are plump and intoxicating (in taste only) once simmered in the wine, orange zest and ginger. I was so enamored with this particular combination that I later repeated it for a warm ice cream topping.
Gosh, now that I revisit this recipe in my mind, maybe I’m not so ready to wave farewell to winter after all. Winter cooking’s deep mysterious flavors certainly have their allure.
Sweet and Savory Millet Pilaf
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 C. millet
3 C. water
1 t. salt
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ C. red onion, finely chopped
½ C. thinly sliced carrot “coins”
¼ C. white wine
½ t. grated fresh ginger
1 t. freshly grated orange zest
½ C. chopped dried cherries
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg
¼ t. cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped toasted pecans (optional)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the water with a teaspoon of salt until the water comes to a boil. Add the millet, and bring to a boil again. Cover the pan and reduce the heat. Cook the millet for 20 minutes over low heat or until the water is absorbed.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the minced garlic until fragrant and golden. Add the onion and carrots, sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the white wine with the ginger and orange zest and then add the dried cherries. Simmer in a small skillet until warm. Set aside.
When the millet is done, add it to the skillet with the vegetables and toss. Add the cherries and any remaining liquid and toss again. Season with the spices, salt and pepper. Place in a serving dish and garnish with pecans if desired. Serve warm as a side dish or chilled as a light lunch.