My grandad Biagio used to have canaries, when I was very very young. I do not remember the canaries, but I remember a lot of cages that were hung in the barn for years – that was my fantasy world full of corners to explore and adventures to be lived – along with boxes filled with millet. Since then, for me, millet is inextricably linked to canaries.
Then I went nuts for cereals, captured by the desire to discover something that went beyond wheat and rice. After the barn at home, my place of adventures and discoveries has become the NaturaSì (an organic shop) of Siena, my favorite corner of the world, the starting point for journeys to distant lands, following the crumbs, as Tom Thumb, of Camargue pink rice, South America quinoa, Central America amaranth or millet, indeed!
It is not a matter of arrogance: pasta with tomato sauce or white rice with butter and cheese are more than good to me, it’s just a matter of curiosity: cereals to try are endless, in every shape, color, texture, origin and type. And everyone, if possible, should be organic.
Millet was a discovery. It ‘a very ancient grain, grown since prehistoric times, spread around the world from India. Nowadays it is grown almost exclusively in some parts of Asia and Africa. He has a fascinating history, closely linked to developments of civilization: in the Middle Ages, for instance, was one of the most widely used cereal because it was considered an excellent substitute for meat during the Lenten prescribed by the Church. Today is mainly used in animal feed – see the canaries of my grandfather – but it has high nutritional properties, is rich in vitamins, is gluten-free, so suitable for people with celiac disease, and contains nutrients for the beauty of nails and hair. At this point – considering that it is also really good and versatile in cooking – I wonder what are you waiting to try it! I’ve already tried it, with this simple recipe full of perfumes.
::::: Millet with vegetables and herbs :::::
- hullet millet, 200 g
- red bell pepper, 1
- aubergine, 1/2
- white onion, 1/2
- mixed herbs, as basil, marjoram, chives, terragon
- soy sauce
- extravirgin olive oil
Hulled millet I bought (Ecor) cooks in boiling salted water for 30 minutes without previous soaking. While millet is boiling, thinly slice onion, cut into thin strips red bell pepper and eggplant and chop herbs, except basil. Sautee onion and vegetables in a wok with a tablespoon of warm olive oil, cooking them but leaving them crispy. Add herbs to the very end. Season with a pinch of salt.
Drain millet: it will remain quite wet and a bit sticky. Pour over vegetables, and sautee over high heat, adding at the end fresh basil and soy sauce for a touch of intense flavor.
Tasting test. Eat millet as soon as it is ready, otherwise it will get a bit glued and sticky! I did it with peppers and summer herbs, but this is just a way to cook millet – resembling slightly a risotto .. I’d say a millotto. It can be cooked with any kind of vegetables, even the autumn or winter ones, like pumpkin, cabbage, carrots…