Millet on My Mind

 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. 
Ricotta Millet Pudding with Warm Raspberry Compote
 (recipe from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck)
Millet
  • 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

 Pudding

  • 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

Compote

  • 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.

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