I don't know how many of you have tried millet before, especially since for the longest time even I only knew about it because it was used in bird seed, but within the last couple of years we have come to love that tiny golden grain. We've used it before to stuff peppers and also to use as a base for those Mediterranean Burgers. We pulled those small spheres, filled with protein and fiber, out of the pantry again tonight to prepare these Savory Millet Cakes.
Before I jump into the recipe tidbits, I have to show you this. When I grabbed the carrots out from the refrigerator, look what we found! Twisted carrot love... funky!
Once we softened a small amount of chopped onions, we stirred a couple cloves worth of minced garlic and a cupful of millet into the pot and waited until the pungent aroma from the garlic reached my nose. For the liquids added to cook the millet, you could of course just use water, but always looking for ways to add more layers, we used a combination of broth and water. Allowed to slowly bubble, covered to trap in the moisture, the millet begins to soft and you'll notice this mixture will begin to look much like polenta. It may look almost grainy when you remove the cover at first, but we're not done yet!
We then stirred in salty Parmesan, freshly shredded carrot, zucchini, fresh thyme and just a teaspoon of lemon zest. After letting the millet continue to cook, stirring as you would polenta to keep it from sticking, the mixture quickly softens, absorbs any extra liquid and will become quite thick - almost enough that you could stand a spoon straight up in it! That's when you know it is ready to take off the heat. The next part is important - the mixture needs to rest, covered at first, then uncovered to allow it to cool down enough that you can handle it without it being very warm.
As it cools, it will tighten even more, so as you dip your fingers in to shape the cakes, all you need to do is keep your digits dampened with water and it won't stick to you. I thought we may have to end up adding an additional binder like eggs or breadcrumbs, but it just didn't need it! After forming the first cake, it held its shape just fine and didn't fall apart when I moved it around. Even though they felt like they could be cooked right away, I have come to find that giving recipes like this a short rest in the refrigerator aids in the ease of their cooking process.
To finish these off, we divided the cakes into two sets of 6 - because you want them to brown well, you won't want to stuff more than that in the skillet and risk cooling it down too much. These were probably more intended to be served as a side of 2 cakes to a simple chicken or fish dinner, but we went ahead and chowed down on 3 cakes as a meatless main dish instead. Cracking through the browned crust, revealing the warm, creamy center of the cakes, had us feeling quite satisfied by the time our plates were empty. We also noted how well the sharp Parmesan played with the nuttiness of the millet, the shredded vegetables and the zing from the lemon zest!
Savory Millet Cakes