Sunday, March 9, 2014

Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Millet Bake

Okay, so I will just start out with some honesty: millet is what you feed parakeets.  It's birdseed.  To be even more exact, it is a seed that is often fed to birds (and in fact I gave it to my budgerigars when I was in high school).  But don't judge.  After all, how delicious are sunflower seeds?  Pumpkin seeds?  I mean, the birds know their delicious, protein-rich, pint-sized snack.

Couscous? Nope, millet!
So imagine my surprise when my favorite healthy-yet-often-deliciously-bizarre food blog, A Couple Cooks, posted a recipe for a cheesy broccoli casserole made with millet.  Millet is full of fiber, it's gluten-free, and it's a more acceptable substitute for quinoa - at least according to my mother, who is still not a quinoa fan.  Millet can be made in two  ways: fluffy and creamy.  The creamy way apparently is a bit like mashed potatoes  -I haven't tried that yet.  The fluffy way ends up being almost exactly like couscous; I bet you could tell people it was couscous and no one would be the wiser.

So add this large, fluffy, nutty millet to delicious roasted broccoli, freshly shredded cheddar cheese, and the most delicious white sauce made from garlic, butter, milk and dried thyme (I could easily have drunk that sauce) - and you have dinner.  And while it may weird some people out that they are eating "birdseed," I can tell you that my family really enjoyed this, especially Mom and Kenzie.  Mom, as I said, loved it and said it was much better than quinoa.  I ate it for lunch a few days during the week, as did Kenzie; in fact I got a text from her saying, "is that millet healthy cuz I just pounded a ton of it?"  I think that says enough :)


roasted broccoli and cheddar millet bake
from A Couple Cooks
serves 4-6

8 cups broccoli florets (4 small heads)
1 1/2 cups millet
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper


1) Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

2) Wash and cut the broccoli into small florets.  In a bowl, combine the broccoli with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and some fresh ground pepper.  Pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

3) Prepare 1 1/2 cups millet; pour into a dry pan.  Toast for 2 -3 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Pour in 3 cups water and add a few pinches kosher salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 17 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed.  Fluff the millet with a fork, then add some salt to taste.

4) Meanwhile, dice 3 cloves garlic.  In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.  Add 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon thyme, and bring to a simmer.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens slightly.  Turn up the heat slightly if the cheese does not melt at first, but be careful not to overheat.

5) When the broccoli, millet and sauce are complete, turn down the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Pour the millet into a large casserole dish and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon or more kosher salt.  Add roasted broccoli, pour in sauce, and add a bit of the shredded cheese (making sure to reserve some for the top).  Stir to thoroughly combine, making sure to combine all millet with sauce and cheese.  Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top.

6) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until warm.

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