Updated: Jan 6, 2022
"Millet Skillet," really? Uh, heck yeah, really! There are zero reasons that food cannot be F-U-N! This recipe is easy, filling, and combines layers of flavors to put a multi-faceted vegan dinner on the table; pronto. Largely created using a single skillet, this recipe is also a great weeknight dinner option (limited bowls to clean up afterwards).
Confession time. This is my first use of millet. Ever. I have used millet flour (to mixed results) and it's not one of my favorite whole grain flours (I prefer brown rice or spelt) as a result. What possessed me to try whole millet? I'm looking for other ancient grains to add to my repertoire. What are ancient grains? A group of seeds or grains that have been minimally altered or changed by selective breeding over time. Generally, they are poised in direct comparison with "cereals" such as corn, rice, and some varietals of wheat. There are some studies that proport an increase in Omega-3s, proteins, or other health benefits to ancient grains over cereal grains and they have gained in popularity in the U.S. due in part to this "health halo."
Sustainability Spotlight: While they may be healthier (those studies are not yet agreed upon or verified), I'm looking to use more ancient grains simply due to the limited "interference" of these crops versus those of the traditional cereal grains. Also, cereal grains tend to require more chemical intervention for the application of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. Ancient grains, in contrast, do not require as much human interaction to produce high yields and quality of crop. In fact, they generally require less irrigation too (provided they are grown in locales that support their basic tenements of growth - kind of like ensuring you plant your flowers for shade or sun, acidic or non-acidic soils, etc.). All of these notes add up to an increased sustainability footprint on ancient vs. cereal grains. I could always use more points of diversion (like swaps of ancient grains for my cereal grains) to make my efforts more impactful (and so can you)!
I gave millet a try as an option for ancient grains, and I'm very glad I did - easy to cook, and slightly chewy, I'm ready to include this in more recipes. In fact, I already did with half of the millet I used for this recipe in my Caramel Apple Overnight Power Oats (and that was a stroke of brilliance)!
1/2 cup rinsed & drained millet
1 cup filtered water (plus more for cooking - as needed)
2 tbsp avocado oil (divided)
1/2 red onion (diced)
2 small (or 1 large) poblano peppers (de-seeded and diced)
1 orange bell pepper (de-seeded and diced)
2 fresh corn on the cobs (kernels cut from the core - uncooked)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp smoked salt (divided)
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 lime (juiced)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (quartered)
1 large handful baby spinach (diced)
1 large handful cilantro (chopped); Garnish (optional); more cilantro
Creamy Garlic Sauce:
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (Veganise)
1/4 cup plain cashewmilk yogurt (I use Forager brand)
3-4 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 green onion (trimmed & chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp agave syrup
1 tsp stone ground mustard
1/4 cup filtered water (to thin)
Combine millet and water in a medium saucepan over Medium-High heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, put 15 minutes on your timer. Check on millet at intervals; stir occasionally and add water if the pan starts to dry (~1/4 cup at a time). Millet is done when it reaches a chewy texture (at the end of 15 minutes) and all water should be absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
While your millet is cooking, set a large cast iron skillet over Medium-High heat and add 1 tbsp avocado oil. Swirl to coat; once it shimmers, add onion through corn and sauté for ~7-9 minutes until the vegetables have softened and browned slightly.
Next add cumin through lime and stir to coat / warm the spices (cumin through chili powder; only 1 tsp of the smoked salt here) and citrus.
Now, stir in the tomatoes, spinach and cilantro until they all sufficiently wilt (~3-4 minutes).
Next, add the second tbsp of avocado oil, the second tsp of smoked salt and 1/2 of your cooked millet to the skillet. Stir to coat and warm all the way through. Remove skillet from heat.
Add all ingredients of the Creamy Garlic Sauce to a personal blender and blitz until smooth and slightly foamy.
Serve portions of your Southwest Millet mixture with a generous amount of the garlic sauce over top; garnish with extra cilantro as desired.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie