Friday, September 27, 2013
I love rice. Some would say there have even been times in my life when I've lived off the stuff. Rice porridge for breakfast, rice chia bread for lunch, followed by curry and rice for dinner...
It's played a huge part in our diet since changing over to gluten-free 5 years ago, it was my savior when I felt I couldn't eat a thing and is always a quick and easy meal base for those nights when life gets busy. So you'd think when The Good Guys sent me a Sunbeam Risotto and Rice Perfect cooker as part of Voices of 2013 that I'd make, well um, something with rice eh? Nope, not today. Instead I wanted to show how easy it is to cook gluten-free grains in a rice cooker too!
Buying a good rice cooker has always been on the top of my list of tips to help make life easier when eating gluten-free. Although, admittedly it did take me awhile to succumb to Si's pleas to buy one when we first met. 'How hard is it to cook rice in a pot?', was my usual reply. It wasn't until we traveled round Si's homeland, Vietnam, where I saw that every family owned at least one rice cooker, even in the middle of the whoop-whoops where power is a little fickle, that I decided I could swallow my chef pride and invest in a rice cooker. You know, to keep the boy happy and all. I've never looked back. They truly do make life easier and the rice/grains are always cooked perfectly. Okay, okay, even better than when I cook it in a pot. I'll admit.
The challenge was set, create a dish using the Sunbeam Risotto and Rice cooker that included spice in some form or another...
I cook with alternative grains and seeds often and millet is one of my favourites. It contains way more vitamins, minerals and protein than rice, has a much more mellow flavour than quinoa, but can be used in dishes much in the same way as you'd use either. There's also one more thing that makes me love millet and that is it's price tag! In comparison to other nutritious grains and seeds it is really well priced, I suppose because many people still think of it as only bird food. I urge you to go and try it if you haven't already, but maybe just not all at once though... we don't want the shops catching on to it's goodness and charging the world for it too!
I decided on slightly Indian-inspired flavours and created a base of onions, garlic, chilli, curry leaves and the all important spices. In this case I stuck with locally grown mustard seeds in shades of brown and yellow, cumin and turmeric. The Sunbeam Risotto and Rice cooker has a great saute function which I utilised to cook down the base ingredients first before lightly toasting the millet, adding in the water and switching things over to cook.
Minimising food wastage is something that's really important to me, so rather than wasting those beautiful beetroot leaves, I used them to form the base of a lively (albeit strange coloured!) pesto, along with some fresh mint from the garden and lightly toasted cashews.
The Good Guys are also giving you the chance to win your very own Sunbeam Risotto and Rice Perfect cooker, just head on over to their blog and leave a comment. Good luck!
spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint
To make this dish vegan, simply use olive oil in place of ghee and omit the feta. You will need 2 long green chillies for this recipe, some will be used in the pilaf while the rest is used in the pesto. I leave the seeds in as I love chilli, but you can remove the seeds if preferred. It's important to note that the rice cup that comes with the cooker is only 180ml not a standard 250ml measuring cup. The 180ml cup is what I've used for this recipe.
Serves 6 or more as a side
1 bunch baby beetroot, leaves reserved and stems trimmed to 2cm
3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 long green chillies, finely chopped (de-seeded if desired)
a small handful curry leaves
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 rice cups (315g) hulled millet* see headnote
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 3/4 rice cups (675ml) cold water* see headnote
1/2 cup (65g) lightly toasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
crumbled feta cheese, coriander (cilantro) + mint leaves and lemon wedges, to serve
mint + beetroot top pesto dressing
the trimmed leaves from the baby beetroots (approx 100g once stems are trimmed off)
1 cup packed mint leaves
1/2 cup (65g) lightly toasted cashew nuts
1/2 long green chilli (leftover from the pilaf, de-seeded if desired)
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place trimmed beetroots into a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender. Depending on the size of your baby beets this can take from 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and cut into quarters, halves or little chunks. It's up to you.
Switch the Sunbeam Risotto and Rice Perfect cooker on. Press menu until the light shows up next to saute. Leave for 1-2 minutes or until hot, add ghee or oil to the bowl, then the mustard and cumin seeds. Stir briefly, then when the seeds start to pop add the onion, cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, chilli, curry leaves and turmeric and stir for a further 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in millet and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until toasty smelling. Carefully pour in the water, give it all a good stir to make sure the ingredients are level. Pop on the lid, press menu until the light shows up near 'rice' and leave to cook. You will hear the cooker beep when it's cooked and it will switch over to 'keep warm' when done. Leave it on 'keep warm' for 5 minutes, then remove lid and fluff up millet with a fork (being careful not to scratch the bottom of the bowl!). Replace lid until you are ready to serve.
While the millet is cooking, place all the pesto ingredients into a small food processor and blitz until smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you'd like it a little thinner, simply add a little more lemon juice and olive oil.
Stir cashews, coriander (cilantro) and mint through the millet pilaf (reserving some for garnish if desired). To serve, place a scoop of pilaf onto plates, top with some beetroot, scatter over feta and drizzle with pesto. Serve with extra lemon wedges for squeezing, if desired.
Note: Quinoa can be cooked in exactly the same way as millet using a rice cooker.
This post is sponsored by The Good Guys as part of Voices of 2013.
Labels:beetroot,cashew nut,feta,gluten-free,millet,mint,spring,The Good Guys,vegan,vegetarian,Village Voices
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