I have to admit, I am new to the world of cooking with alternative grains (a.k.a. any grain that is not rice, bulgur, or grits). The same goes with making (corn) polenta at home. Since Turkish cuisine is not centered around corn-based recipes, the first time I had polenta was back in the early 2000s right after I moved to the US. And I loved it. I still remember the first time I had polenta like yesterday. With the help of a little Parmesan cheese they added, it was so creamy and delicious. Until I got married, it was one of my favorite things to cook and eat at home. Unfortunately, I had to forget about it for a while because my husband has never been a big fan of the pudding-like texture of polenta.
So when I saw this millet polenta recipe on Laura’s blog, it reminded me of those days. I thought that it was such a clever way of using millet. I decided to follow on her food steps, use it as a base and top it off with something delicious. With the weather being as cold as it is, I was hoping to find an alternative to our usual soup and salad dinners. So when I saw these freshly picked red beets at our local farmer’s market, I knew I was onto something.
The thing about this recipe is that it is a mixture of sweet and sour flavors. The sweetness comes from the beets that are roasted with a quick honey & balsamic vinegar dressing, while the earthy sourness comes from the millet polenta mixed with a little bit of Parmesan cheese. I topped it off with some chia seeds and microgreens. But if you can’t get a hold of microgreens, feel free to use baby arugula. I added the arugula next day after I took these photos and thought that it was just as good.
Finally, feel free to roast the beets in advance and keep them in an air-tight jar with all of their juices. This would be helpful especially when you are short on time. Plus, you can always incorporate them into salads (they go so well with walnuts and goat cheese). Once you have the beets ready, it takes less than 10 minutes to make the millet polenta. And to me, this is the definition of a healthy meal with a ton of flavor. Though for my husband, it is a whole different story…
Balsamic and Honey Roasted Beets with Millet Polenta
- 5-6 small red beets washed and scrubbed with their skin on
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup millet flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated – more as garnish
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds optional
- Handful of microgreens or baby arugula
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Place each beet separately in foil. Drizzle them generously with the balsamic & honey mixture before wrapping them up. Roast until a pairing knife can be inserted with little resistance, 60-70 minutes.
- Let it cool on the kitchen counter until easy to handle, for 15-20 minutes. Place the juices left over from beets into a small measuring cup. Reserve.
- Using paper towels remove the skin of each beet and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan in medium high heat. Add in the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add in the vegetable stock, water and salt. Let it come to a boil.
- Once it boils turn the heat down to medium. Using a whisk, slowly sprinkle the millet flour. Continue to vigorously whisk until you have a thick, polenta-like mixture. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and add if necessary.
- To assemble, divide the millet polenta into 2 large or 4 small bowls. Top them off with diced beets. If preferred, sprinkle it with chia seeds, Parmesan, and microgreens. To finish them up, drizzle them with the juices (honey and balsamic mixture) left from roasting.
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Recipe for millet polenta is adapted from The First Mess’s millet polenta recipe.
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