Here’s a tasty recipe for Kale Caesar Salad with Millet Croutons. I finally got inspired to try something new with millet, and after several attempts, these crunchy crispy millet croutons came to be! Gluten-free and highly nutritious they are a satisfying substitute for traditional croutons!
What is Millet?
Millet, an ancient seed is a bit of a mystery. Some believe that it was first cultivated over 10,000 years ago. Recently, in Northern China, archaeologists discovered a 4000-year-old bowl full of very old noodles, made, surprisingly not from wheat, but from millet.
In ancient China, millet was one of the five “sacred crops” and very highly revered. Millet was also the traditional grain used to make couscous, thousands of years ago before wheat or semolina.
There seems to be some debate on where it originates… some say it comes from the drier regions of Africa where it is still widely used to make beer, and others say it originates from the Far East.
One thing is for sure, millet is making a quiet comeback here in the States because unlike most grains, it is completely gluten-free.
Health Benefits of Millet
Another interesting fact about millet is that is quite alkaline, helping to balance the body’s natural tendency towards acidity. Its 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.
How to makE Millet Croutons
- 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. Whatever size the pan- obviously my pan was too large- you want it an inch thick. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fill the whole pan, it’s very moldable, 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 them cool and set, you will end up with a mess.
TIP: The best option is to make these the night before, giving them ample fridge time to set overnight.
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 tasty snack. For our catering business I can already think of a hundred different things to do with these.
Make the Kale Salad
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.
How to make a good kale salad:
- 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 into smaller pieces, or stack and finely shred them.
- Give the kale a good rub-down. Massage the kale leaves with the oi, garlic and salt, with your fingers until they become pliable and appear deeper in color, about 5 minutes. The more you massage the more tender, sweeter and less bitter they will become.
- Once massaged, then add the remaining ingredients – lemon, pecorino cheese, pepper and lemon zest.
I call this a “Caesar dressing”, but it’s a very loose translation. No egg, no Worcestershire. The pecorino gives it delicious depth and creaminess.
More Recipes you may enjoy:
September-14-2013 -Kale Caesar Salad with lacinato kale, lemon zest, garlic and pecorino, topped with toasted millet croutons. The croutons are gluten-free and fun to make!
Millet Croutons ( makes 20 x one inch croutons)
- 1/2 cup dry millet
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or other cheese like cheddar
- 1/2 tsp rosemary, sage or thyme- optional
- 1 large bunch Lacinato Kale, ribs removed
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
- generous pinch Salt
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced (use a garlic press)
- 1–2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1–2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4– 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino
- Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts , walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds
- optional additions: finely minced anchovy , pickled onions, capers
- 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 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 baking sheet -upside 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.
- Bake in a 425 F oven until golden and crispy, about 25-35 minutes. While croutons are in the oven prepare the salad.
- While croutons are in the oven prepare the Kale Salad. Cut de-ribbed kale into small size pieces. Massage kale with your fingers with a little olive oil, salt and garlic until tender (about 5 minutes). Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and finely grated pecorino and pepper.
- Toss in the toasted nuts or seeds, any of the optional additions, taste, adjust salt, pepper and lemon, then and add the warm croutons.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Calories: 245
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