When I was a child my secret place to play was the shed, a high and spacious room where they used to park the cars, where there was the door to the cellar and some shelves all for me where I could store neatly my pots and pans, toys and dolls. There I could play with my imagination and create fairy tales and lucullian menus, there I would bring back the bike in the evening after the afternoon rides along the country roads, there I was allowed to daydream and to poke around in drawers and cupboards in search of forgotten treasures.
I loved to investigate pieces of past lives in the shed. You just needed to raise your eyes up or open a cupboard door to plunge into the distant past. There were fine-tipped brushes and water colours that belonged to my grandparents, who used to paint small statues as a second job. High up there, above the doors of the shed, in a place that you could spot just if you stretched your neck, there were a lot of cages that my grandfather Biagio used to shelter his canaries. That was years before I was born, but all the empty cages were still there, because in my family you do not throw anything away, along with bags of millet lost in the drawers of old cupboards.
Since then I associate millet to birdseed. I think many of us have the same reaction, you say millet and your thoughts run immediately to cages, yellow canaries and tweets.
In recent years, however, on blogs and luckily also on organic shops and supermarkets shelves we began to see cereals and seeds that until a short time ago were either completely unknown – amaranth, for me, was a beautiful colour, certainly not something to eat – or linked to memories and traditions far from the food world. Millet, to name one, or even flax seeds, for example. In the last months I got used to dress my salads with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, but for my grandma flax seeds were used boiled down to a poultice to be spread on your chest agains flu and cough. Try to convince her to eat flax seeds, I failed.
Healthy every week: Millet croquettes with carrots and black olives
Millet is highly energetic and – listen listen – an anti-stress cereal, but mostly it is really versatile and easy to use in the kitchen. You cook millet in a saucepan with three times the amount of water and in about twenty minutes it will absorb all the water, becoming soft and creamy. Now you can use millet to give structure and flavour to croquettes and flans, just add seasonal vegetables, cheese or simply fresh herbs. I made already twice these croquettes, fun to be eaten also with your hands, crisp on the outside thanks to a breading of sesame seeds, which give a slight roasted flavour, and creamy inside for the Tuscan pecorino cheese cubes that melt in the oven and for the texture of millet, which remains moist.
- 1 cup of millet (about 200 g)
- 3 cups of water
- 4 medium carrots (about 200 g)
- 2 handfuls of pitted black olives
- 150 g of pecorino toscano cheese
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 egg
- Sesame seeds
- Rinse millet under running water and then put it in a saucepan with 3 cups of water, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook it over low heat until it has absorbed all the water, about 20 minutes. Check often and stir to prevent it from sticking. When ready remove it from the heat and scoop the millet into a bowl.
- Meanwhile, mince the carrots with the pitted black olives and sautée the vegetables in a pan for about 5 minutes with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add them to the bowl along with the millet and the cheese cut into small cubes. Add 2 tablespoons of flour, the beaten egg and season with salt.
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Make croquettes as big as a tangerine, coat in sesame seeds and arrange them in a baking tray lined with baking paper and greased with olive oil. Drizzle the croquettes with a olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and crisp.
- Serve the croquettes warm with some radicchio quickly grilled in pan with a drizzle of olive oil and salt.
- a good reading on how to cook perfect millet every time from The Kitchn,
- check this unusual way of cooking millet, to make a kind of grilled polenta… I can imagine it topped with mushrooms…
- Heidi Swanson’s blog is always the first one I check: I love these croquettes and I’m dying to make farro and millet risotto.