Moroccan cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the West as evidenced by the presence of lamb and chicken tagines, harissa, Moroccan mint tea, and, of course, couscous in dozens of cookbooks and on restaurant menus. The accessibility of typical Moroccan ingredients, such as dried dates and apricots, chickpeas, pumpkin and squash, carrots, tomatoes, lemons and oranges, mint, coriander, parsley, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, pistachios and pine nuts, not to mention the satisfying combination of sweet and savory in most Moroccan recipes, undoubtedly contribute to the cuisine's growing appeal. With the exception of dishes made from phyllo and couscous, Moroccan food is also relatively friendly to the gluten-free diet. But even couscous is not a deal-breaker, as I discovered when I began using a versatile gluten-free substitute: Millet!
When properly prepared, millet can be a dead ringer for couscous, making it a perfect gluten-free foundation for Moroccan dishes. This salad recipe, which would serve four adults as either a warm or cold side dish, is well-suited to accompany kebabs, zataar chicken (recipe coming soon), pumpkin soup, salmon, or other Moroccan bean and vegetable dishes. Because I wanted to make this recipe low-fructose/FODMAP friendly I have not used any beans, onions or dried fruits, but you could easily add some chickpeas and raisins or currants, and garnish the finished salad with sliced scallions, if you wanted to make it even more substantive.
This is definitely an interesting and colorful way to take a break from rice and quinoa and still have a filling, nutritious dish that packs in a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables, too.
Speaking of nutrition, you may be interested to know that millet is a great source of iron (which can be depleted in many individuals with celiac disease) and turmeric is reputed to have strong anti-cancerous properties. Yet more reasons to enjoy this delicious salad!
2 tbsps olive oil
1 cups millet
1 cup gluten-free vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups water
2 tbps fresh orange juice (about the amount of juice produced by half of a navel orange)
3 tbsps apricot preserves (use preserves sweetened with sugar, not juice, if you are sensitive to fructose)
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt
2 tsps olive oil
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced broccoli florets (or zucchini, if you prefer)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped pistachios (you could also subtitute toasted pepitos)
Wash millet in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water. Set aside to drain thoroughly. When mostly dry, put the clean millet in a medium pot on medium high heat with two (2) tbsps olive oil. Toast the millet in the oil for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the millet starts to turn golden-brown it is ready for the liquid. Add the broth and water to the millet and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer on low for 45 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff the millet with a fork.
While the millet is cooking, combine the juice, preserves, water, and spices in a small saucepan (1- or 2-cup capacity) over low heat to form the sauce. Stir frequently as you bring the sauce up to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for a minute or so, just to let it heat through and reduce in volume slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sautee carrot and pepper in a wok or large sautee pan on high heat in a 2 tsps olive oil for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add broccoli and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and cook another three minutes until broccoli is just tender. Add the millet to the cooked vegetables and stir thoroughly to combine. Pour the sauce over the millet and vegetables and stir again until the sauce is evenly distributed throughout.
Garnish with chopped pistachios or pepitos as desired and serve warm or chilled.