• Jennine Bryant

Herby Millet with Paprika Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate and Rocket


Click here to go straight to the recipelet with Paprika Roasted Butternut Squash


Navigating the gluten free world can leave the best of us feeling bewildered, especially when it comes to the plethora of grains out there. What's buckwheat? Is sorghum safe? What the heck even is amaranth? And, how do you even pronounce triticale? There are so many different options out there, but how can you be sure of what is safe and what is only one mouthful away from leaving you horribly ill?


I often feel overwhelmed when it comes to trying different grains. I’ve found my comfort zone with a variety of carbohydrates already - so why mess with that? (Admittedly, much of that consists of potatoes in different forms, chips, gratin, mash, roasties...)


Well, let me tell you why. It's good to try new things. You might hate it, but you might just well love it, and who wants to miss out on that kind of culinary discovery? We need to get out of our comfort zones once in a while and try something different, for our own benefit. Also, a varied diet really is the best way for us to get all the nutrients we need.


So, move over quinoa. It's time to talk about millet.



Millet is considered to be an an ancient grain; in fact it is is one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world. It's super hardy, meaning it's possible to grow in harsh environments where other grains wouldn't thrive.


Firstly, and most importantly for us lot, millet is naturally gluten free. It’s completely safe to consume on a gluten free diet, which is 100% a win in my books.


Secondly, it’s super versatile and simple to cook. It’s a great stand-in for any other grains, like couscous, rice or quinoa. It has a wonderfully gentle nutty flavour and a texture not that unlike our old friend quinoa. You can literally swap it into any recipe where you might have used another grain, and it will work.


Thirdly, and possibly best of all, is how insanely healthy this grain is. Millet contains high levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre. The insoluble fibre is in fact a prebiotic, which actively supports the good bacteria in our guts. It is also rich in protein, providing more amino acids than most other grains, and it contains the highest levels of calcium among all cereal grains. On top of that, millet has a low glycemic index, has an abundance of antioxidants, and packs in a whole load of vitamins and minerals.


Incredible, right? So, are you ready to give millet a go?


How do you cook millet?


I'm glad you asked.


All you really need to cook millet is a wide bottomed pan, millet, and some water.


The first step is to heat up the pan and add the millet. It might seem a little strange to add dry grain to a dry pan, but trust me here. Keep the pan at a medium heat and allow the millet to gently toast for 5 minutes or so. You'll be able to smell it as it begins to roast and it will slowly begin to darken in colour. Keep watching because you don't want it to burn!


Step two, add the water to the pan with the millet, allow it to heat up and then put a lid on the pan. Leave it to simmer for 15 minutes. You might want to check that the water levels are ok and the millet is cooking, but please refrain from stirring the millet too much, as the grain can become misshapen and fall apart.


Step three, take the pan with the millet off the heat and allow it to sit, with the lid on, for another 10 minutes or so. Then, fluff it up with a fork, and hey presto! Millet! Simple as that. Ready to get cooking?


Herby Millet with Paprika Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate and Rocket

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 4 portions


Ingredients 1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of runny honey

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic granules

Salt and pepper

100g millet

2 cups water

1 tablespoon of butter (optional)

80g pomegranate arils

a handful of fresh thyme, chopped

A few handfuls of rocket


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan (200ºC for a conventional oven or 400ºF) and pour the olive oil into a baking tray.

  2. Add the prepared butternut squash, then pour over the honey, the paprika and the garlic granules, and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything in the tray to make sure the butternut squash is well coated, before putting it into the oven and allowing it to roast for 30 minutes. Check occasionally and turn the butternut squash if need be. You can tell it is cooked when it is soft and the edges are starting to caramelise.

  3. Meanwhile, add the millet to a dry, wide bottomed pan that has a lid. Turn the heat on and allow the millet to toast in the pan for 4-5 minutes until it has gently browned.

  4. Add the 2 cups of water to the millet, bring it to a simmer and then add the butter. Place the lid on top and allow the millet to simmer for 15 minutes. Check the millet occasionally, it could need a little top up of water, but refrain from stirring it too much as you don't want to break up the grains.

  5. After 15 minutes, remove the millet from the heat and allow it to stand for another10 minutes, with the lid still on. This will help it to finish cooking and absorb the rest of the liquid, without burning onto the bottom of the pan.

  6. Remove the roasted butternut squash from the oven, and in a serving dish combine the millet, the butternut squash, the pomegranate arils, the chopped thyme and the rocket.

This dish is best served fresh and warm. It also tastes great with some roasted seeds on top and a sprinkling of feta!