This week, we’re exploring comforting foods for cooler weather. Our first is a casserole of the roasted broccoli, cheddar and millet variety. For those of you not familiar with millet, it’s a heritage grain, gluten-free just like quinoa. However, millet is not quite as sexy as its trendy cousin, since it’s also known as a component of birdseed. (We actually had no idea until a commenter on a past post told us they fed millet to their pet “budgie”, which we found quite entertaining!)
Here’s a great story on millet by NPR that made us want to root for this underdog grain. According to the article, “The grain needs adventurous chefs and tastemakers to promote it to really take off.” We’ll consider that a challenge!
Millet is actually quite tasty; slightly larger and chewier than quinoa, with a slightly nutty taste. Here we’ve combined it with roasted broccoli and cheddar cheese for a hearty, comforting casserole. It’s a healthy, nutrient-filled take on the standard casserole, and a lovely gluten-free option. In addition to this preparation, millet also makes for a easy side dish; see our recipe Master Recipe: Perfect Millet.
Casserole is not a traditionally lovely subject to photograph, so it was a challenge to make these shots look interesting. For this shoot, we played with a “flare”, created using a wine glass held to the side of our shots. It creates a bit of blur towards the edge of the frame that helps to add motion to the image. Just a little peak behind the scenes, for those of you interested in the photography aspect.
How about you — what are some of your favorite comfort foods? We’ll be back this week with another tasty option.
- 8 cups broccoli florets (4 small heads)
- 1 ½ cups millet
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup milk
- 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Large casserole dish (9" x 13"; we used a 10" x 12" oval dish)
- Preheat an oven to 450F.
- Wash and cut the broccoli into small florets. In a bowl, combine the broccoli with 1½ tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and some fresh ground pepper. Pour onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
- Prepare 1 ½ cups millet, according to the Master Recipe: Millet (takes about 20 minutes).
- Meanwhile, dice 3 cloves garlic. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium low heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon thyme, and bring to a simmer. Stir in 1½ 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).
- When the broccoli, millet and sauce are complete, turn down the oven temperature to 400F. Pour the millet into a large casserole dish and sprinkle with ½ 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.
- Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until warm.