Salads & grains

I’ve been experimenting with using different kinds of grains in my salads. Recently I came across one that used millet. I couldn’t find millet and thought that amaranth would produce a similar result. I was wrong. It’s more of a porridge grain and turned into a sticky mush. However, it did have an interesting nutty flavour. Like quinoa, amaranth is an ancient seed that was a staple of the Aztecs and Mayans, it’s full of calcium and anti-oxidants and packed with protein.

I intend to experiment with it and find best uses – didn’t do the job for my salad and I ended up quickly cooking some couscous to mix in with it (which worked really well). The beauty of this salad is that it’s quick to make and the only thing you need to cook is the chicken and the millet.

Poached chicken salad with millet
Serves 4
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup dried millet
1 cup chicken stock
100gm frozen peas (place in a sieve and rinse them with cold water to bring them to room temperature)
100gm silverbeet, thinly sliced
1 buch broccolini, finely chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed mint, finely sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts

Dressing
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Place chicken in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, a spoonful of salt, handful of black peppercorns and some spring onions (optional) bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let it stand to finish cooking.
  2. Dry roast millet in a saucepan over medium-high until nice and golden (2-3 minutes). Add stock, season to taste and baring to the boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook without uncovering for 15 minutes. Spread millet on a tray and refrigerate to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, drain chicken and tear it into pieces. Combine in a bowl with peak silver beet, broccolini and mint, then add millet and toss to combine.
  4. Shake the dressing ingredients in a jar to combine and drizzle over the salad. Toss to coat and serve with scattered pistachio nuts.

For more grain-based salads click here: barley tabbouleh

Fast food on the road

On  our way for a camping trip our ETD was supposed to be 10am.  But there’s always something else to pack – at the last moment I decided I wanted to take our hammock which necessitated finding some additional ropes.  And then I thought it would be a good idea to make some fresh juice to take (pineapple, honeydew melon, apple, carrot, celery, cucumber and ginger). And so our departure time was almost one hour later.

A quick stop for a bottle of champagne and whisky (can’t sit around a fire without a dram) and we were on our way – 11.15.  Still, no rush and we’re missing all the peak traffic.  Just means we’ll get to our destination at 3pm instead of 4pm but we have another two full days so all is well.

I packed the juice and some fruit to have on our journey but couldn’t remember where (the car was choc full) so we stopped at one of those fuel/food places.  The usual suspects – MacDonald’s, Star cafe and some other unsalubrious looking greasy joint, but also a place called “Oliver’s Real food” which is an organic food cafe/take-away.  They have fresh wraps and sandwiches, sushi, salads (both fruit and vegetable), yoghurt mixed with berries and little cups of chia and coconut with fresh raspberries and a better then average range of drinks including coconut water and freshly made smoothies.  M had a fresh chicken, avocado and lettuce sandwich and I had the little chia and coconut cup – a mixture of chia seeds, coconut milk, coconut flakes and fresh raspberries.  Quite delicious and not sickly sweet.  And the best roadside coffee I’ve had – fresh organic beans.

So next time you’re on the road and in need of sustenance, look out for an Oliver’s, its a far cry from the usual unpalatable dross available at other roadhouses. Oh, and they also do gluten-free; vegetarian; vegan; lacto-free; lacto-gluten vego. As well as delicious looking things for kids.

Now just to locate those nectarines and juice.