Gingered Millet with Roasted Beets
Beets, much like brussel sprouts, have suffered at the hands and up-turned noses of small children everywhere. And, just like brussel sprouts, the ruby and orange roots have experienced a bit of a renaissance in those of us adults who have finally grown up enough to realize that sometimes if you just try something, you’ll actually like it. I credit the dislodging of beets from the “ick” category to the beautiful and fresh varieties that have poured into farmer markets around the country. Even people who don’t have any interest in buying beets from our market table are prone – even compelled – to pick up a bunch of these colorful beauties to appreciate visually, if not in actual taste.
I have to confess that I wasn’t a huge beet fan myself when I was younger. I did, however, love the pickled beets my mom made every year to line our root cellar shelves. I’ll be posting a recipe for those shortly, by the way. I didn’t discover the rustic sweet delight of roasted beets until much later in life (okay, so only a few years ago, in truth). Now I can’t imagine a dinner I’d rather have more than one that centers around roasted beets.
Today’s recipe for Gingered Millet with Roasted Beets is a show-stopper, both in taste and presentation. The ginger is the perfect spicy heat pairing for the natural sugars of the beets. The millet is hearty and healthy, making an entire meal out of this one dish. Hot or cold, this is a dish that does double duty as a dinner entree or a picnic lunch next to a vibrant salad of fresh greens dressed in simple oil and vinegar.
If you don’t have these exact ingredients on hand, don’t fret. Save for the beets and ginger, you can achieve pretty much the same flavors and textures with substitutions such as quinoa, spelt, or orzo for the grain; white or yellow onions instead of red; grape tomatoes instead of sungolds; tarragon instead of cilantro; and so forth. Experiment and make this recipe your own using whatever is coming out of your garden. Just please do come back and tell us all about your adaptations, especially if any of them win over the wee ones in the crowd!
Gingered Millet with Roasted Beets
Very loosely adapted from Martha Stewart Living
5 or 6 medium beets, scrubbed and trimmed
½ C. water
1 t. coarse salt
1 T. plus 1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 C. millet
2 C. boiling water
2 t. freshly grated ginger
¼ medium red onion, finely diced
1 large handful of sun gold tomatoes, sliced in half
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 t. honey
1 ½ t. freshly ground coriander
1 t. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
¼ C. chopped fresh mint
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place beets, water and ¼ t. of coarse salt in a baking dish. Cover with parchment paper and then foil. Bake until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45-55 minutes. Let stand to cool before using your hands to slip off the skins. Quarter the beets and place in a small bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
In a medium saucepan, toast the millet over medium heat, stirring regularly, until it gives off a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Slowly and carefully add the 2 cups of boiling water (it will sputter!) and stir in 1 teaspoon ginger and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil again before reducing heat to low and covering. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes after taking off the heat. Fluff with a fork.
While beets and millet cook, prepare the remaining ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine the diced onion, tomato halves, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, red wine vinegar, and honey. Toss well and let sit for 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, whisk 1 tablespoon oil and coriander with the onion and tomato mixture. Toss with the cooked millet. Season with pepper. Stir in the chopped mint and cilantro. Arrange beet wedges on top and garnish with more herbs.