I love collaborative dinner with friends.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I also enjoy hosting and cooking the entire meal on my own. But there is something slightly more fun about hodgepodge-ing together an impromptu dinner with friends.
This happened yesterday. I get the text. “Want to do dinner later?” me: “YES! What can I bring? Where? When?”
The menu quickly came together:
They had barbeque sauce.
We had tofu + tempeh.
They were going to make the veggie salad.
I was going to make the grain salad.
They had sweet potato fries.
I sliced + pressed the tofu and took it to their house to marinade in the barbeque sauce. They decided on slaw, and I decided to make a hearty millet salad. Something that would work as a side or even stand alone as a meal…with an egg on top of course.
Next came the “what,” of what was going to be in the salad. I believe you aware of my current enthusiasm for kale, so I’m sure you knew that would be included. Next, a little more protein. Beans! Now, something with a little flavor. Sun dried tomatoes + feta! And to top? A nice bright dressing finished with sliced almonds.
This salad has crunch + chew in all the right places. The kale was baked into bite-sized kale chips and then gently stirred in with the other ingredients. If serving right away, they retain their crispiness and are not tough to chew through, which can sometimes be the case with raw kale.
While chomping away at our delicious dinner spread, our friend Megan said, “sun-dried tomatoes are nature's pepperoni!”
SO TRUE. I absolutely loved that description! Flavorful, soft, bright in color, and good in just about any savory dish.
Millet Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Kale, and Beans [yields 4-6 servings]
for the salad:
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked millet, rinsed + drained
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups low/no sodium vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 6 cups well-chopped curly kale, stemmed + washed
- 1/2c+ oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped + blotted
- 1c+ cannellini beans, rinsed + drained
- 3oz feta or goat cheese, crumbled
- sliced almonds
*I used a rounded 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and a rounded 1 cup of beans.
for the dressing:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt + pepper
- Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until fully combined. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and/or honey if desired. Set aside in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 350*.
- Heat a large pot over medium and add 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
- Once hot, add the millet and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to turn golden brown and smells nutty.
- Slowly add in the veggie stock and water. Be careful, it will spatter.
- Bring to a boil, stir, then cover the pot + reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 18-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Do not stir while it cooks.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
- Measure 4 cups of lightly packed millet and spread onto a baking sheet, then place in the fridge (~1hr) or freezer (~20min) until fully chilled. Turn a few times to release the heat.
- While the millet is cooking, pat the kale dry, then place on a large baking sheet and rub 1/2 tablespoon oil and a sprinkling of salt + pepper into the kale.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until just starting to crisp and lightly brown. Let cool. Don’t over-crisp the kale or it will fall apart in the salad.
- Place the chilled millet, kale, beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then pour about 1/2 of the dressing overtop of the salad.
- Gently toss until well combined. Taste and add more dressing, salt, and/or pepper if desired and toss again.
- Place in a serving dish and garnish with more feta and sliced almonds. Or, store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
If you haven’t explored cooking with millet yet I highly recommend it. It’s much cheaper than quinoa and offers close to the same nutritional profile. I actually prefer it to quinoa, as it’s quite a bit heartier and nuttier in flavor.
Our spontaneous dinner turned into quite the success! And can I just say that barbeque-grilled tempeh is my new favorite thing? Oh yes it is.