When I make a vegetarian entrée, it is always in the back of my mind that a minority of people eat this way, so I try to come up with things that are interesting and balanced for a vegetarian but that someone who does eat meat would find filling, or at least a satisfying side dish to their protein of choice.
I try to use kale often, as its nutritional profile is quite impressive. In this dish, its short time in the oven helps it to retain most of its structure, but make sure that the oil really coats the kale, since if you use too little you will get something more like kale chips. If you use curly kale, which is less tender than lacinato kale, or you prefer your greens more wilted, you could sauté it quickly instead. I use lots of liquid in the millet, so the result is nice and soft but bound together by the sharply flavored cheese. The bits of millet are still detectable, but it has a comfort food texture. Whether you serve it as an entrée or a side is up to you.
1 cup millet
2 1/2 cups milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rinse and drain the millet. Put it in a heavy pot (enameled cast-iron, if you have one). Add the milk, 2 cups water, and a big pinch of salt. Stir. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and thyme and cook another 3 minutes. The consistency should be like that of a soft polenta with some millet nuggets in it. If it starts to thicken too much or the texture is too coarse, add another 1/2 cup water as it cooks. Stir in both cheeses, taste, and add salt and pepper, if desired. Turn off the heat and leave the lid ajar.
In a large bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, herbes de Provence, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Brush both sides of the mushrooms with the dressing and gently toss the kale with the remaining dressing. Put the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet, stem side up. Bake until the mushrooms have shrunk down and softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, spread the kale in the remaining space, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, and roast until the kale is just softened and crisped a bit, another 5 minutes.
To serve, place a generous scoop of the cheesy millet on each plate. Top with a portobello, some roasted kale, some Pecorino, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara Forte. Copyright © 2012 by Sara Forte. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Sara Forte discovered a love for whole foods when she volunteered at an organic farm while working toward her English degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The interest led to an internship in Italy at a bed-and-breakfast and cooking school, jobs at a few different markets, and eventually a food blog, Sprouted Kitchen (sproutedkitchen.com), that she produces with her husband, Hugh. She writes recipes and stories about life while he documents their whole food approach to eating well. Her work has been featured in InStyle, Better Homes & Gardens, Sunset, Fine Cooking, The Kitchen, Etsy, Food 52, and EcoSalon. The Sprouted Kitchen was a recent finalist in Saveur‘s Best Food Blog Awards for Best Food Photography. Sara continues to freelance in recipe development and take on small catering jobs on the side. They currently live in Dana Point, California, working, eating, and inspiring people to cook fresh, real food.