We had some friends over for potluck dinner a few weeks ago, and one couple brought some fennel and citrus to roast, inspired by a recipe in the Jerusalem cookbook. Right before pulling them out of the oven, my friend Olaiya tossed in a generous handful of kalamata olives. The result was one of the more glorious things I've tasted coming out of a roasting pan: warm and citrusy with a salty kick from the olives and a slight bite from a mustard vinaigrette. Since we shared the steps for making perfect stovetop millet with you yesterday, I decided to recreate this flavor combo for you in make a substantial millet side dish.
If you're not familiar with millet, it's truly my favorite whole grain at the moment for so many reasons: it's quick-cooking, super nutritious, and has such a mild flavor that its easy to pair with other bold tastes (as I do here) to let them take center stage. Perhaps you only recognize millet as bird food, but it's actually making a big showing these days in quick breads, muffins, granola, cookies, and all sorts of wonderful grain dishes.
While I love this recipe with clementines, any mandarin orange will do (just remove the seeds before roasting!) If you've never roasted citrus before, it becomes quite soft and super sweet in the oven (don't worry about the skins — they soften right up and lose any inherent bitterness in the oven). When tossed together with warm millet, citrusy dressing, olives and roasted fennel, a certain chord is struck with a harmony of textures and flavors. I love eating this on its own for lunch, but it's a great dinner side dish, too. You can serve it with roast chicken, salmon or pork. Or for a vegetarian meal, it'd be great alongside grilled tofu or tempeh.
Because this recipe calls for cooked, warm millet, it's best if you can time pulling the roasted vegetables out of the oven with the just-cooked millet. However, you can always make the millet ahead of time and give it a quick reheat on the stovetop (add a few sprinkles of water and even a little olive oil to loosen it up as it warms).
Warm Citrusy Millet Salad with Roasted Fennel and Kalamata Olives
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
1/4 cup orange juice, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons grainy mustard, divided
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks cut off, bulbs halved lengthwise, then cut in 1-inch thick wedges
5 clementines, washed and unpeeled, cut horizontally into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup kalamata olives
3 1/2 cups warm cooked millet
1 tablespoons dried mint
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Generous pinch dried ginger
1/2 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley.
Preheat the oven to 475°F. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon mustard and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
Lay the fennel and clementine slices into a medium roasting pan and pour the citrus mixture over the top. Toss with your hands so each component is coated. Place in the oven to roast for about 35 minutes, or until fennel has softened and browned around the edges. Stir every 10-15 minutes to prevent sticking (if you're getting a lot of sticking, add an additional drizzle of olive oil). With about 5 minutes left of cook time, stir in the kalamata olives.
Pour the cooked warm millet into a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon mustard. Pour over the millet and stir to combine. Add the the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, mint, thyme, and ginger, and stir to combine.
When the roasted fennel and citrus come out of the oven, immediately fold them into the millet. Toss in the chopped parsley. Stir to incorporate. Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Scoop salad into bowls and sprinkle with additional parsley. Serve immediately.
Related: Good Grains: What is Millet?
(Images: Megan Gordon)