Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jeweled Millet with Mixed Herb Salad and Citrus-Basil Viniagrette

I've been on a blogging hiatus since November. I was working two jobs (and still am, but with reduced hours), trying to craft as many Christmas presents as humanly possible while working 60+ hours a week, and honestly my cooking was reduced to whatever was fast and cheap. There was much pasta and red sauce, and veggie delight subs from Subway, to be had. It was not a blog-worthy or particularly fun time!

But happily I can say, after a rejuvenating vacation in New England, I'm back and so thrilled to be in the kitchen again. And honestly, to be in California! Divine, locally grown produce year round ... ample sunshine ... no salty slush to ruin your shoes every time you leave the house ... Of course I do always miss the snow and autumn and the beauty of New England, but I'm learning to appreciate Southern California as well!

My favorite present I got for Christmas was a Shun classic 8" chefs knife from Nate. I was SO EXCITED to be back and start cooking so I could use it.

I didn't get in until 4 am on Monday (thanks to flight delays caused by the ~Polar Vortex~), but luckily before we left I had stashed a bunch of produce in the freezer. I woke up with a hankering to cook something, and had frozen potatoes, onion and broccoli in the freezer, and thought soup would be the perfect meal! I sauteed some sliced onions, added a bunch of roasted garlic I had frozen, added about 1 chopped potato and 2 cups of water, then simmered until the potato was cooked through. I added some pre-cooked frozen broccoli at the end and simmered until tender, which was only a minute or two. I seasoned the soup with bay leaf, paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper, rosemary, and added about 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast. I also added some lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar at the end to brighten it up. When everything was tender I gave it a whiz with my new immersion blender. The result was a creamy, hearty vegan soup that lasted for several meals.
Vegan potato, broccoli and onion soup. On my new table cloth from my pseudo-brother-in-law Will. And topped with homemade croutons, of course!
I also wanted to make sure I had something tasty to eat for breakfast, so mixed up a portion of vegan overnight oats before bed. My favorite is a creamy blend of oats, chia seeds, ground flax, almond milk, agave, and pumpkin pie spice, topped with slivered almonds, golden raisins, coconut chips and black sesame seeds. I find that I like the texture when using a 1:1 ratio of oats to liquid best.
Vegan overnight oats

When I did finally get to the store after vacation, I basically loaded up on greens and citrus. The grocery store across the street, Bristol Farms, has top quality produce, and since I wasn't able to make it to the farmer's market, I went there. A lot of what they have is very expensive - the citrus was definitely pricier than at the FM - but the salad greens and kale, as well as a lot of their canned foods, are on par with the FM and other stores.

I had a bag of millet in the cupboard and stumbled across a recipe for Jeweled Millet on Food 52. I though it would pair nicely with a zesty mixed greens salad and a citrusy vinaigrette. The result was a vegan, gluten free dish that tasted delicious and healthy, and was also amaaaazinglllyyyy beautiful.

The best part is that it all came together in less that 40 minutes, meaning I was able to make and eat this lovely dinner in the hour between my first and second jobs. 

Jeweled Millet with Mixed Herb Salad and Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette
makes 3-4 salads

Ingredients - Jeweled Millet

1/2 cup millet
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp olive oil
2 T golden raisins
2 T raisins
1 14-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
1 T Moroccan spice blend
1/2 T Sambal Olek 
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 T fresh chopped cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 425°
2. Add millet, water, pinch of salt, and 1 tsp olive oil to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes, or until millet is tender. Add raisins to pot without stirring millet. Cover pot and remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes (this helps steam the raisins so they're nice and plump).
3. In the mean time, rinse and drain the can of chickpeas. In an oven proof dish (big enough for the chickpeas to sit in a single layer), mix the chickpeas with 1 T olive oil, Moroccan spice, sambal, and some salt and pepper. Roast about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly browned and crispy. 
4. While chickpeas cook, toast almonds in a small pan until lightly golden brown. Remove almonds from pan.
5. Add a little olive oil to the pan and cook the onions over medium until tender and slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. 
6. In a large bowl, combine millet mixture, chickpeas, almonds, onions, and cilantro. 

Ingredients - Salad and Citrus-Herb Vinaigrette (modified from From the The Little Yellow Kitchen)

4 cups mixed herb salad - including any baby greens plus mint and basil
Edible flowers (optional, but lovely)
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of  1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 T minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1-3 tsp agave, to taste (changes depending how sweet/tart the citrus is) 
Handful of chopped basil
Dash of salt
2 T-1/4 C olive oil

1. In a food processor or blender, combine citrus juices, ginger, garlic, agave, basil, and salt. Pulse to combine. 
2. With machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. 

To Serve

1. Divide greens and flowers among plates. Drizzle with dressing. 
2. Top with Jeweled Millet and drizzle with more dressing as desired. Eat warm, cold, or at room temperature. 

Iced water with mint and flowers
A lovely satsuma tangerine for dessert

This will definitely be on the table at my next dinner party! I hope to do more blogging now that things have wound down a little bit, so keep your eyes peeled! And as always you can check out my day-to-day food posts on my Instagram account.

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