Sometimes you just want something hearty and substantial to bite into, and this loaf is that. Yes, it takes a bit of time to put together, but it truly is a meal in loaf form. Loaded with protein and minerals from the chickpeas, vitamins from the millet and vegetables, amino acids from the sunflower seeds and fiber from everything, this recipe is a nutritional powerhouse. And I like that it stars millet, a mild, sweet-tasting grain which doesn’t get the love it deserves. This recipe serves 8-10, so take it to a potluck or slice and freeze in zip lock bags. Served with a favorite gravy or sauce, I think this loaf’s subtle goodness will sneak up on you. Full recipe after the jump.
8-10 servings/ Preheat your oven to 350º
4-5 cups cooked millet (made from 2 cups whole millet, washed)
1 1/2- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can)
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 medium-large carrots, grated
2 stalks celery, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb mix (or herb of choice)
1 small bunch parsley, washed, dried and chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons sunflower butter, or tahini or peanut butter (optional, but adds richness)
salt, soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar, freshly ground black pepper
olive oil or canola oil
1. Bring 5 cups of lightly-salted water to a boil, add 2 cups washed millet. Cover, return to the boil, then reduce heat and cook at a very low simmer 35 minutes. You are aiming for millet more moist and sticky than you’d want normally.
2. Meanwhile, prep the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and parsley. Heat a wok or frying pan until very hot, sauté the onions and garlic 3-4 minutes, add the dried herbs, carrots, celery, parsley and a little pinch of salt and sauté 3-4 minutes more or until well wilted. Add a splash of soy sauce and umeboshi vinegar.
3. Chop the sunflower seeds in a food processor. Pour them into a large mixing bowl. Using the same processor bowl, coarsely chop the chickpeas and add them to the mixing bowl.
4. When the millet is ready, add that to the bowl, along with the veggies. Mix everything together well. Taste and add soy sauce or umeboshi vinegar as needed.
5. To make sure everything sticks together well, place one third to one half of this mixture, along with the sunflower butter, back into your food processor, and process until well smooshed together. Now, carefully mix this back into the remaining loaf ingredients. Taste, and adjust seasoning, adding a little black pepper if you like.
5. Oil a 2-quart loaf pan and pour the mixture into it, pressing it firmly into place, and smoothing the top. (Alternatively, you could form this mixture into burgers and fry in oil.)
6. Bake in a 350º oven about 40 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top. Allow to cool in the loaf pan 10-15 minutes before attempting to unmold.
7. Serve with a sauce or gravy of your choice. It’s especially good with a tomato sauce, freshly made in season, although a purchased organic sauce is also a good choice.