One thing is for sure, it's making a quiet comeback here in the States because unlike most grains, it is completely gluten-free. Another interesting fact about millet is that is quite alkaline, helping to balance the body’s natural tendency towards acidity. It's alkaline properties make it easily digestible and soothing to the stomach. Millet is high in fiber, iron, B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium - and is basically just really good for you.
This recipe for Tuscan Kale Caesar is fairly basic, using Lacinato kale - a variety of Kale popular throughout Tuscany. Lacinato Kale is easily recognizable by its beautiful blue hue and embossed wrinkly texture on the leaves. I won't go into the health benefits of kale - by now, we all know.
Tips to making a good kale salad:1. Remove the dense fibrous ribs by tearing the leaves off of them before cutting. The ribs are a little too toothsome to be eaten raw. Cut the leaves in smaller pieces.
2. Give the kale a good rub-down. Massage the kale leaves with your hands until they become pliable and appear deeper in color, about 5 minutes. The more you massage the sweeter and less bitter they will become. You can rub them undressed, but I prefer to massage them with a little drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and then let stand for 10-15 minutes before tossing with the rest of the ingredients. Remember Kale is a tough winter green that requires a deep-tissue massage when eating raw to help it tenderize. The great thing about a Kale salad, is it tastes great the next day too.
Lastly, if you are new to eating Kale raw and in the salad form, I highly recommend starting with baby kale and working your way into the less-tender and more bitter, Lacinato Kale. Like many things, it is an acquired taste. But once you acquire it, you will love it!
I call this a "Caesar dressing", but it's a very loose translation. It's a very simple non-traditional version using good quality olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. No egg, no worcestershire. Sometimes I'll add capers or minced anchovies- but I always add a lemon zest to brighten it, and finish the salad with a little shaved pecorino or Parmesan to give depth. This is a tad on the tart side, so pair it wisely.
To make the Millet Croutons....place the millet, water and salt in a small pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and let simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in 1/2 C Parmesan cheese and any seasonings or herb you like, like rosemary, thyme or sage. It will feel like a stiff porridge.
Using a greased spatula, spread it in a well oiled loaf pan, to about 1 inch thick. What ever size the pan- obviously my pan was too large- you want it an inch thick. Don't worry of it doesn't fill the whole pan, it's very mold-able, and stays put. Brush olive oil over the top and either place in the freezer for 45 minutes, until cold and set, or 4- 6 hours in the fridge. If you try to bake these without letting letting them cool and set, you will end up with a mess. The best option is to make these the night before, giving them ample fridge time.
Cut into 1 inch cubes and place upside down, on parchment lined sheet pan.
Place in a hot oven at 425 F until crispy, about 25-35 minutes. For extra crunch- broil for a few minutes.
When they come out, they will be golden, crunchy and crouton like. They also make a tasty snack. For my catering business I can already think of a hundred different things to do with these.
Toss the warm Millet croutons in with the kale salad and top with a few shavings of pecorino cheese, and if you are in the mood, a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds.
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Tuscan Kale Salad with Millet Croutons
A twist on the familiar-kale replaces romaine and millet replaces bread...a great gluten free caesar salad
- 1 Bunch Lacinato Kale, ribs removed
- Drizzle olive oil
- Pinch Salt
- Shaved pecorino or Parmesan -for tossing
- 2 T Pine nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds- optional
- 1/8 C plus 1 T good quality olive oil
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- Zest from one lemon
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/8 tsp salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 minced anchovy ( optional)
- 2 tsp capers ( optional)
- 1/2 C millet
- 2 C water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 C packed grated Parmesan
- 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary- optional
Make croutons. Place all millet ingredients except for the cheese in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low, and let simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in cheese, taste for salt, add pepper if you want.
Using olive oil, grease a loaf pan or small sheet pan. With a greased spatula, spread millet evenly to about 1 inch thick. Brush olive oil over the top and place in the freezer for 45 minutes or fridge for 4-6 hours until firm and set.
Once cool and firm, cut into 1 inch cubes and place on a parchment lined backing sheet -up side down. ( So the top of cooled millet will now be on the bottom). If you don't have parchment, make sure to grease a sheet pan well, and use a metal spatula to loosen them. Parchment helps a lot.
Bake in a 425 F oven until golden and crispy, about 25-35 minutes. While croutons are in the oven prepare the salad.
Cut de-ribbed kale into small size pieces. Massage with a little olive oil and pinch salt until tender (about 5 minutes). Massaging will make kale less bitter. Let stand 10-15 minutes. Make the dressing by combining all ingredients together in a small bowl or jar. Toss some dressing with the massaged kale ( you may not need all) and add the warm croutons and some shaved pecorino cheese. Sometimes I'll add toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds as well. Enjoy!
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6