I’ve always had this romantic idea that I’d move to the town my grandmother was born, my ancestral home, and start a farm. I imagine a quiet modest farm surrounded by pristine wilderness.
While this dream is inhibited by the fact that I don’t have the wildest clue about farming, every time I read about someone or some couple who’ve gone off to start a farm, my heart quickens.
I thought about it seriously, albeit briefly once when a friend took a year off to work on a millet farm somewhere in the Sahel.
Millet is a grain (well, actually a seed) that has been around for thousands of years, it’s an important food source for people in Sahel region mainly because it’s such a low-maintenance crop – it grows in spite of the desert, droughts, high temperatures and low soil fertility.
It’s one tough plant, I hope there are songs and adages extolling its resilience…
Millet is also nutrient rich, gluten free, easily digestible and absolutely delicious when done right. It has a hint of sweetness and a slight nutty flavour. The texture is gritty polenta-like.
I bought a bag of millet to try, just around the time I was idealizing my plan for the millet farm – I cooked it like I would rice, but I must have done something wrong because it was undercooked and tasted like tiny stones.
I’m a giver of second chances… so I tried it again, this time using a good recipe and following instructions, and voila! I’d added another grain in to my repertoire.
This millet and black bean salad is what I like to do to left over millet, I chop up a few vegetables and toss it together with the millet, and whatever beans I have in the fridge at the moment. I coat it in a simple dressing of balsamic vinaigrette and add some nuts – that’s dinner, sometimes with a side of other leftovers.
I usually make a batch to last me the week.
Millet and Black Bean Salad
- 1 cup uncooked millet
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups black beans, cooked
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
- Â½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- A pinch of salt to taste
- Â¼ cup olive oil
- Â½ clove of garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or your favourite herbs)
- Â½ teaspoon of salt
- Ground pepper to taste
- A few olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
- A handful of toasted pecans, or almonds or other nut
- Toast millet in a (heavy-bottomed) saucepan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly until fragrant and just golden brown
- Remove pan from heat and carefully add broth, return to heat, bring to boil over medium heat then reduce heat to medium low
- Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and millet is tender, 20 to 25 minutes
- Remove from the heat and set aside to let stand, covered, for 5 minutes
- *Rice Cooker Option: Add toasted millet to rice cooker with vegetable broth, stir and set to cook per your machine instructions.
- Fluff cooked millet with a fork and set aside to cool
- In a large salad or mixing bowl, toss the millet with black beans, red onions, bell pepper, carrots, sundried tomatoes and red pepper flakes
- Add nutritional yeast (if using) and a pinch of salt, and mix
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper – taste as you go to ensure you have the perfect balance
- Pour dressing over millet mixture and toss gently to coat
- Add olives and pecans and serve