Millet Marries Chickpeas, Comfort Food In Loaf Form

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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.

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Pearl millet growing in a field. Millet has been cultivated in East Asia for thousands of years, and while India is the largest single producer of millet today, Africa is the world's leading millet growing region. (USDA photo)

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Great Grains: Millet, Ancient Grain Ready to be Discovered Again

Millet grains washed, draining in a colander, ready to cook

Not many of the foods we eat have as ancient and proud a history as millet, the small seeds of grasses which have been cultivated for some ten thousand years. In fact, millet predates rice as a staple food in China and is mentioned in a recipe for bread in the 4th chapter of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, and the French, who know a thing or two about food, were eating it long before the Roman legions arrived. Even today millet is eaten from China and Japan, through India and into Africa and Europe. Russians eat it as a sweet porridge with sugar and milk, the Chinese as a savory porridge with beans or sweet potatoes. How sad that it is known in the U.S. mostly as bird food (not sad for our birds, I might add).

Traditional Chinese medicine recommends millet for problems of blood sugar and the pancreas.  Western science notes that it is 11% protein, high in B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, and is gluten free. Some sources believe that millet is the one grain which has an alkalizing effect on our body.

So, how to use millet? Serve it as a grain in place or rice, or potatoes. Add it to soups as you would barley. Make croquettes. Cook it soft and eat as a morning cereal. Cook up a pot and you’ll see how versatile it is. My recipe for Sweet Corn-Millet Croquettes is here. Millet cooking instructions after the jump… Continue reading