When spring arrives, there is probably nothing more exciting for a vegetable-obsessed person than seeing all the soft and beautiful green vegetables at the farmer’s market: think asparagus, peas, and tender baby lettuces. These softer-hued and more delicately flavored vegetables provide such a welcome change from the deep colored, heavily textured squashes of fall and winter.
This dish uses millet, a lesser-known but health-supportive grain, in combination with three of spring’s vegetable superstars. Millet, very small and fine in size and texture, along with sugar snap peas, peas, and asparagus, makes for a delicate but satiating dish, especially appropriate for spring.
Millet Primavera with Lemony Vinaigrette
- MILLET PRIMAVERA:
1 cup uncooked millet
8 ounces (1/2 pound) sugar snap peas
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound asparagus
- LEMONY VINAIGRETTE:
1 small shallot
Juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Olive oil to taste – use your best quality
- Rinse millet well under running water.
- Add millet and 2½ cups of water to a pot, along with a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover pot. Cook millet for 25 to 30 minutes. (See our guide to cooking grains to help determine when the grains are fully cooked.)
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil, with a pinch of salt, and set aside a big bowl filled with water and ice cubes. (Check out our guide Blanch and Shock 101 for assistance.)
- Prepare vegetables: trim the woody ends off the asparagus and cut them into bite-sized pieces (about 1” to 2” in length). Remove any stems from the sugar snap peas, and if desired, cut them in half. Measure the frozen peas and set aside.
- When water has boiled, add the asparagus and sugar snap peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are crisp tender. Remove them with a slotted spoon or tongs – leave the water in the pot (you will use it later) – and immediately place them in the bowl with the ice water. This ensures that the asparagus and sugar snap peas maintain their brilliant green color.
- Remove the asparagus and sugar snap peas from their ice water bath, and wrap them in a dish towel or piece of paper towel to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
- Return the water in the pot (in which you cooked the asparagus and sugar snap peas) to a boil, and add the frozen peas. Cook them for about 5 minutes. Remove the peas from the heat, and set aside with the asparagus and sugar snap peas.
- Make the vinaigrette: finely chop the shallot, and place it in a bowl or jar. Add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and the mustard (if using). Mix well.
- Add an equal volume of olive oil to the vinaigrette and taste. Add more olive oil, teaspoon by teaspoon as necessary to achieve the balance of acid and oil that you prefer.
- Once the millet is done cooking, fluff it well with a fork (do not stir with a spoon!) and then fold in the cooked vegetables. Dress with the vinaigrette. Use salt and pepper to taste.
- Optional garnish: sliced lemons, chopped herbs.
If you plan on saving some of the Millet Primavera for a later time, only add the vinaigrette to the portion you are currently serving. The vinaigrette can make the millet go soggy over time. As always, store any leftovers in a covered container, preferably glass, in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
Millet, traditionally cooked into a delicious porridge in places like China and Russia, has been around for thousands of years. While technically a pseudo-grain (it’s actually the seed of a grain), it is treated as a grain when cooking. One of the best properties of millet is its prebiotic function, helping to feed all those microflorae in your gut. Also a good source of magnesium, millet is considered a heart-supportive food that helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Combining vegetables and grains in one dish is a great way to get kids (and vegetable-adverse adults) to eat their vegetables.