Rice and other Grains Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian

Quinoa and Millet Pilaf

Quinoa-Millet Pilaf

Recently, I was at Mollie Stone’s market in Greenbrae, CA where there is a sizable bulk foods aisle and I was gazing at all of the varieties of gluten-free grains available there. In my kitchen, I have a shelf with glass canisters filled with staples and I just love the beauty of all the different-colored grains, beans, and pastas lined up next to each other. So when I saw these beautiful grains at Mollie Stones that I hadn’t tried in years, I just had to have them. Pearl millet and quinoa were the two I chose that day and I thought, ‘Why not make a pilaf?’

Once I returned home, I consulted the one book in my collection that was guaranteed to include a quinoa and millet pilaf: Annemarie Colbin’s 1989 book, The Natural Gourmet: Delicious recipes for balanced, healthy eating. If you’ve been following this blog at all lately, you will know that our family (specifically my husband) has renewed its efforts to engage in balanced, healthy eating. The last time I tried to do such a thing was 1990, and I have moved this book with me from place to place ever since.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as protein, both of these grains are gluten-free and deserve a place at everyone’s table.

For tips on how to make sure that your quinoa doesn’t taste bitter, see this post, How to Cook Quinoa over at my good friend Viviane Bauquet Farre’s blog, food and style.

Quinoa and Millet Pilaf
adapted from the recipe by Annemarie Colbin in her book The Natural Gourmet

Serves 3-4

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
½ tsp ground cumin
1 clove of garlic, peeled and bashed
½ cup millet
½ cup quinoa (rinsed well)
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
Sea salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
Fresh curly parsley to garnish


1. Rinse the quinoa well. To do this, put the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and place a bowl underneath. Rinse with cold water while rubbing the quinoa between your fingers. The water will become cloudy. Drain, and repeat this process with fresh water two more times. Strain excess water and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes, or until soft. . Add the carrot sauté for another 4-5 minutes. If you need another touch of olive, don’t hesitate to add just a teeny bit more. Add the cumin and garlic and sautée for another minute. Now we are going to toast the grains so that they have a rich, nutty flavor. Add the millet, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add the quinoa and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more. Again, stirring frequently to coat the grains with the olive oil, aromatic vegetables and spices, and to prevent burning.

3. Add the vegetable stock and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and, covered for about 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Fluff before serving and garnish with fresh parsley (or fresh cilantro sprigs would do well here too).

Quinoa and Millet Pilaf
Produce Sides Vegetarian

Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Root Vegetables


Roasted parsnips, potatoes and carrots

I’ve been working on perfecting roasted root vegetables for awhile. Getting them to come out of the oven crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside is no small feat. Should you parboil first? How hot should the oven be? I’ve gone back and forth about the parboiling question. For years, I’ve been too lazy to bother and I thought that I was getting by just fine. That all changed the other day, when I followed the recipe in Jamie Oliver’s latest book, Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals. He got me to parboil again and I don’t think I will ever go back.

Click on the book to see more:

The other revelation? Heat the olive oil, along with the smashed garlic cloves and rosemary in the roasting pan first, on the stove top. Then toss the vegetables in the heated, flavored oil to coat (before roasting in a 400˚F oven). The vegetables roast evenly, and the flavor diffuses throughout.

See the nice browning on the potatoes? That comes as a result of scuffing up the potatoes while draining them in the colander. Scuffing the potatoes increases the surface area exposed to the warm air, shortening the time for moisture to evaporate the starches (sugars) to caramelize and turn brown.

And of course, don’t break the cardinal rule: make sure the vegetables are not overcrowded. Overcrowding in the roasting pan leads to “steaming” which produces limp, soggy vegetables that can’t brown. Make sure there is only one layer of vegetables and adequate space between them.

Jamie Oliver's Roasted Root Vegetables
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hearty roasted root vegetables perfect for Thanksgiving and throughout the autumn and winter months.
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: British
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 medium Idaho potatoes
  • 6 parsnips
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F
  2. Peel the vegetables and halve any larger ones lengthways. Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled, and bash them slightly with the palm of your hand. Strip off the rosemary leaves from the stalks.
  3. Put the potatoes and carrots into a large pan – you may need to use two – of salted, boiling water on a high heat and bring back to the boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then add the parsnips and cook for another 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and allow to steam dry. Take out the carrots and parsnips and put to one side. Fluff up the potatoes in the colander by shaking it around a little – it’s important to ‘chuff them up’ like this if you want them to have all those lovely crispy bits when they’re cooked
  4. Put a large roasting pan over medium heat and either add 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary leaves. Put the vegetables into the tray with a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around to coat. Spread them out evenly into one layer – this is important, as you want them to roast, not steam as they will if you have them all on top of each other.
  5. Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Roasted carrots, parsnips, and potatoes
Breads Soups and Stews Uncategorized Vegetarian

Zesty Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread Topping

Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread Topping

I usually avoid vegetarian chili because I fear that it won’t be flavorful enough, but my husband has really laid off meat lately, and he likes his food to have a lot of kick, so I set about making a chili that would stand up to both of our flavor requirements and not include any ground meat. Sure enough, this chili delivers. In addition to chili powder, I’ve added a couple of dried red chilis (seeds and all) which manages to kick it up a notch. The other trick is to add all of the dried spices to the pot while there is hot oil in there to bring out all of the trapped flavors. While you are cooking, you should experience all of the fragrances. Adding dried spices to heated oil makes them truly fragrant.

The other trick to this dish is to make it in a pot that can transfer from stove to oven, like this Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 5 Quart Oval French Ovens. After you’ve prepared the chili on the stove, you will bake it with the cornbread batter on top for about 30 minutes.

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