A week or so ago I was on the phone to my brother (the magnificent E.TeacherLord who sometimes gives me chocolate but also once threatened to bite my nose off), and he started teasing me about how almost every recipe I post on this blog is sweet.
I tried to argue that this doesn’t necessarily reflect how I eat in general. I proclaimed that I often cook complex savoury dinner dishes, but simply don’t get around to blogging them.
However, we both knew this was a lie.
Those of you with siblings might know that conversations such as the above can easily be taken as a challenge. I therefore set out to not only make something dinner-worthy, but to create this dinner-worthy meal entirely off the top of my head. I wouldn’t be following a Jamie Oliver recipe like my dear brother tends to do. Oh no. I was going to put on my Shiny Recipe-Imagining Pants.
I called my brother while eating this dish to crow about how capable I am of creating a non-sweet, utterly savoury main meal. Here’s the transcript of our conversation:
Wayfaring Chocolate: Hah! I just made a proper non-sweet dinner entirely from scratch, using my ingenuity and no recipe! What do you say to that, brother of mine?
E.Teacherlord: Well done you. What is it?
Wayfaring Chocolate: A millet risotto-ish dish with miso and assorted vegetables.
Wayfaring Chocolate: Yes. It’s what birds eat.
E.Teacherlord: Ah. I see.
Wayfaring Chocolate: It’s pretty good, but I do think it’s missing something. You know how a lot of savoury food is best when balanced between hot/spicy/savoury/tangy/etc flavours? I think this needs… wait, hang on.
Wayfaring Chocolate: Ah, that’s better. That’s fixed it. It’s really tasty now.
E.Teacherlord: What did you add?
Wayfaring Chocolate: Maple syrup.
E.Teacherlord: *laughs hysterically*
And that, my friends, is how I proved my brother right and shot myself metaphorically in the foot despite all efforts to the contrary.
Miso Millet Vegetable Pilaf
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main.
Keep in mind that I was very much making this up as I went along, so use your own judgement when it comes to timing and adjusting the flavours to your tastes. I really do recommend adding a bit of sweetener at the end, to help balance and round out all the flavours. This may not be necessary if you’re serving the millet as a side, but it helps when you’re eating the millet on its own. Some toasted nuts as a garnish would also be spectacular, if you’re not as PhD-poor as I am.
- 1 tb olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 large (200g) carrots, diced
- 1/4 head (200g) of cauliflower, diced to same size as carrots
- couple of pinches chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 tb (30g-ish) miso (mine is a barley/mugi miso)
- 2 1/2 cups warm water, or more if needed
- 1 cup (200g) millet
- 100g frozen peas
- 1 tb balsamic or rice wine vinegar, to taste
- Maple syrup, to taste (I probably added about 2 tablespoons all up)
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic and cook 5minutes, until starting to soften. Tip in the carrot, cauliflower and chilli flakes (if using), and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Mix the miso and warm water together until dissolved. Add millet to saucepan and stir, slightly toasting it, for 1-2 minutes. Add the miso water and bring to a simmer, then lower heat and cover. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. You’ll want to start checking the millet around the 25 minute mark, as it may need more water and more time to cook through. You can leave it with a little bit of a crunch, as I prefer, or use more water and cook it for longer to reach a mushier consistency. (Hmm. “Mushier” doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?)
- In the last 5 minutes, add the peas and vinegar, then cover again and let cook through.
- Before serving, adjust seasoning with maple syrup and salt, if these things float your boat, and top with a generous portion of freshly ground black pepper (if you like pepper. I really, really do).
- Brag about your creation to a sibling before sticking your foot in your mouth and losing all cred. Ta-daa!