Saturday, August 15, 2015


Whatever am I going to do with a heaping basket of thumb-sized carrots? Pulled from a garden patch that hadn’t been thinned, they never got a chance to be grown-up roots. Scrubbed, they’re great for eating raw. But, still, that’s a lot of infant carrots.

I decided the carrots—tiny ones left whole, larger ones lopped into two or three pieces—needed to be cooked with grains, rice or bulgur, maybe, for a vegetarian dish that could be a substantial side or even a main dish. Or, how about some alternatives?

Which is how I came to make millet and carrot pilaf.

Millet pilaf with carrots, peppers and zucchini.

Pearl millet.
Millet (mijo in Spanish) is the seed of a type of cultivated grass. It may be familiar as bird seed, but in many parts of the world (Africa and India) millet is an important food crop. The most common variety, pearl millet, once hulled, is a tiny round, pale golden grain. It is gluten free, but has a protein content similar to wheat. Once cooked, it makes a good substitute for rice, for bulgur, for cous cous, for small pasta such as orzo.

I made a large quantity of millet pilaf with carrots. I served it as a vegetarian main dish, topped with grated cheese.

Pilaf as a side with lamb kebabs.

I used leftovers, reheated, as a side for lamb and vegetable kebabs. I recycled the cold pilaf as tabouleh salad. I’m thinking it also would be good for stuffing eggplant and zucchini, with a cheesy topping.

Where to go next with millet? Paella?

Millet pilaf, a vegetarian main or side dish.

Turn left-over pilaf into tabouleh salad. Garnish with ripe figs.

Millet and Carrot Pilaf

The quantity of liquid in this recipe makes millet that is al dente. If you want a creamier grain, use ½ cup more liquid and cook an additional 4 minutes. Allow to set 10 minutes. Chicken stock can be used instead of water—but I preferred to keep the dish vegetarian.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 clove chopped garlic
Red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup diced zucchini
1 cup pearl millet
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
Chopped pistachios (optional)
Chopped parsley to serve

Sauté carrots and millet.
Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add the carrots, onion, bell pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes, if using. Sauté on medium heat 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and millet and sauté a few minutes more. Pour in the boiling water and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook 16 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Remove the pan from heat and allow to set 10 minutes. Fluff the millet with a fork. Serve, hot or room temperature, sprinkled with chopped pistachios, if desired, and chopped parsley.

Millet Tabouleh Salad

Serves 4.

1 ½ cups cold millet pilaf (recipe above)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon or olives
1 cup cooked, drained chickpeas
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Salad greens to serve
Figs or cherry tomatoes to garnish

Add the lemon juice and oil to the millet pilaf. Use a fork to combine, breaking up any lumps. Stir in the chopped preserved lemon, chickpeas, scallions, parsley and mint. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the salad with greens. Garnish with quartered figs or cherry tomatoes.

Cold grain salad with carrots, garnished with summer figs.


  1. Couscous substitute in a Moroccan inspired tagine?

    1. David: Yes, I think millet would be great with tagine.

  2. Do you find millet in specialty stores? I'm living in Toledo now and not finding many of the grains I used back in the states (quinoa, bulgar, freekah, etc.) Am I looking in the wrong places? The recipe looks great, by the way! Thanks!

    1. Judy: I found millet--also quinoa and bulgur--at a "health food store" in the village market. I imagine Toledo capital has several similar shops--tho maybe not no easy to find if you're in a smaller village in the province. Many years ago, I bought alfalfa, millet and wheat to make sprouts at a local feed and seed store. Birdseed, chicken feed, etc. Glad you liked the recipe.

    2. Thanks! I do live in the capital (in the old town), but haven't done much exploring down in the new city yet. I'll check it out. Thanks again!