I’m a little behind the curve when it comes to dabbling in millet, but over the long Labor Day weekend I plan to change all that. On my current campaign to embrace the fascinating realm of grains and more, I was impressed to read that millet falls into the super food status. It’s loaded with protein and minerals; it’s easy to digest and contains no gluten. In fact much of the world’s population considers it a staple, and it is critically important in Africa and South America.
Here’s what else I’ve learned so far. It has a very mild, slightly nutty taste, reminiscent of cornmeal. Basic cooking technique is similar to rice: add it to boiling water and cook it until the water has evaporated, about 30 minutes. The cooking ratio is 1 part millet to 3 parts water. Millet expands a lot ― as much as four times the original quantity.
I begin with the basics: adding millet to boiling water. How hard is that? Even though I knew it would expand, starting with 2 cups of millet makes complete sense. In 20 minutes I have enough millet to feed the entire population of Ethiopia. But that’s ok, because there’s s a long weekend ahead and I plan to really give it a work-out. Right now, I’m especially interested in exploring the sweet side of it.
My first project, Millet-Ricotta Pudding Filled with Blackberries,
is a variation on Ricotta Millet Pudding with Warm Raspberry Compote
from Maria Speck’s Ancient Grains
cookbook, comes via Lootie and Doof ‘s
great blog. I mention it here more as a point of reference. Although it includes whipped cream to lighten the pudding, I elect to eliminate it (in the interest of healthy living) and I regret it. Without it, the combination of the millet, ricotta, and sweetened blackberries is delicious, but decidedly heavy ― it lacks the light, creaminess which defines a good pudding.
Consequently, I’ve learned millet is deceivingly filling; it may look light, but it has incredible staying power.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup millet
- 2/3 cup milk (low fat is fine)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (no need to thaw)
- 1/4 cup honey
To prepare the millet, bring the water and millet to a boil in a small saucepan. Decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Combine the milk, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and add to the millet. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook until the milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature.
Once the millet has cooled, make the pudding. Place the ricotta, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well incorporated. Loosen the prepared millet with a fork and stir it into the ricotta mixture, breaking up any lumps.
In another large bowl, whip the cream with a handheld mixer, gradually adding the sugar until medium-firm peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the ricotta-millet mixture in 3 additions. Divide the pudding among 6-8 serving dishes. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, make the raspberry compote. Place the raspberries and honey in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, gently stirring once in a while so as not to crush the berries, until the sauce is hot and berries just warmed through, 5-8 minutes.
To finish, spoon some of the raspberry compote over the chilled ricotta pudding and serve at once.