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

It’s time for winter greens

The weather has started to turn cool.  There’s a decided chill in the evenings and the mornings are frosty, cold.  Too cold to pad about in bare feet and I’ve even had to put a throw rug onto the bed. Brrrr.  Daytimes though are sunny and bright and sometimes hot – 29 degrees the other day.  Balmy, autumnal weather – more like Indian summer than the emerging of winter.  When I browse at recipes all those hearty cold climate dishes just don’t seem right. Springtime offerings from the other side of the world seem more appropriate and so I’ve been eating more vegetable-based dishes, creating salads with kale, zucchini, asparagus, poached chicken, goat cheese and more.  Heartier than the summer ones and sustaining for the evening chill.

This week I made:

  • Kale salad with a dijon-tahini dressing for recipe click here
  • Chicken, zucchini, asparagus and cos lettuce salad with pine nuts
  • Soup (using the leftover poached chicken water as base for the stock) with kale, leeks, butter beans, peas and crumbled feta
  • Peppery chickpeas with South Indian spinach
  • Sloppy  polenta with a wild mushroom ragout.

lemongrass-poached chicken with harissa tomatoes

In response to requests for the lemongrass-poached chicken recipe, click here.
This is such a great and super easy way of cooking chicken breasts which can have a tendency to become dry when grilled or oven-baked. If you don’t have lemongrass to hand, just omit and add more ginger. I sometimes throw in the end of leeks as well. An added bonus is that the left over poaching liquid makes for a good basis for a soup or stock.

The uses for poached chicken are endless; great as a basis for a laksa chicken dish, numerous salad dishes such as my favourite Vietnamese Chicken Salad and even for ever-so-delicious chicken and herb sandwiches.