You know how some dishes just scream comfort? For me, these dishes are typically a steaming bowl of oatmeal, a healthy serving of my mom’s killer mac n cheese, and basically any food that involves rice. Gotta have em. (yeah! carbs) On a recent trip to the East Coast, I was sitting down at my favorite restaurant in the cute little town of Mystic, Connecticut looking over the menu. Sometimes I pretend I like to expand my horizons and order different dishes from certain restaurants, but who am I kidding. I get the same thing, every time. Without fail. And for this specific restaurant, that meant ordering up the butternut squash risotto with prawns. It’s heaven! So incredibly rich and filling, and hello CREAMY. When it arrived at my table, it was nothing short of what I was anticipating and I savored every single bite. What wasn’t so pleasant however, was the extreme stomach pain and cramping that followed that night. Wow, way to ruin a great story right? I’m a buzzkill, I apologize. But honestly suffering the consequences from the copious amounts of dairy and arborio rice (my now arch enemy) was far from being worth it.
Just when I was about to completely lose hope in ever indulging myself in a big, creamy bowl of risotto for the rest of my days, I began searching for a grain I could use to recreate my beloved dish. I knew quinoa upsets my stomach, so that was out of the question. A savory oatmeal? Nah, boring. Rice is a no-go for me, too. UGH. The tide began to change when I was turned onto millet: an ancient grain that is said by many to be the most easily digestible grain out there. It cooks like rice and can be made with more liquid for a porridge consistency, or less for a texture more similar to rice. I decided to give it a shot using a little more than a 1:1 ratio of liquid to millet to produce a creamy, dreamy, and irresistible risotto. I love the addition of crimini mushrooms and artichokes in this dish making it a little more hearty and filling. The lemon vinaigrette that gets drizzled over the top while still warm lends a delicious burst of flavor, making this the perfect summertime side dish. I served this with roasted balsamic brussel sprouts, and lemon garlic baked chicken and let me tell you. It was a hit! I’m even thinking about reheating some for breakfast tomorrow and topping it with a fried egg. YUM. This risotto is beyond flavorful and is a wonderful substitution to a traditional risotto for those who can’t tolerate rice. Enjoy! Crimini & Artichoke Millet Risotto
1 1/2 cups millet
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
10 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
1 1/3 cups water
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
14 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
for the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
1. In a 2-3 quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic for 3 minutes or until softened. Add the mushrooms and sauté for an additional 3-4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast the millet in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until you notice a slight change in color and it becomes aromatic. Transfer millet to the shallot and mushroom mixture and stir to combine.
3. Add water and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
4. Turn off heat and toss in the artichoke hearts. Gently incorporate them into the millet. Mix all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over millet, lightly fluffing with a fork. Cover again and let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Garnish with additional chives and lemon juice and serve immediately. *note: the longer the millet sits, the more moisture will be absorbed. If reheating the next day, add a splash of vegetable broth to prevent it from drying out and fluff with a fork before serving.