The first time I heard about sorghum as a grain was when Erin, who writes one of my favorite food blogs, Naturally Ella published a recipe called Radish and Roasted Asparagus Sorghum Salad back in March. It looked and sounded so good that it made me want to give it a try. Luckily, I was still in Chicago and was able to pick some up and bring back with me to the island.
If you are like me, have never heard of and/or cooked sorghum, allow me to explain. According to this source, sorghum is a cereal grain that is very popular as a crop due to its natural drought tolerance and versatility as food, feed, and fuel. Though in most countries in Asia and Africa it is consumed as human food, in the US it is mostly used as livestock feed. With that being said, because of its gluten-free benefits, in recent years it gained popularity in the US as the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease increased.
In addition, (according to this source) it is believed that consuming sorghum may protect against diabetes, inhibit cancer tumor growth, and help manage cholesterol. Lately, a lot of people, who are cooking and baking for people with celiac disease, also use it in its flour form.
To be quite honest, even though I heard and read all about the benefits, I had my doubts about its taste. Because as you know, foods that are super healthy may sometimes taste less than desirable. However, I was quite surprised because it tastes similar to brown rice, but nuttier. It is one of those grains that has a mild flavor, which makes it so versatile. You can easily incorporate it into salads and/or side dishes. Or like I did in this recipe, serve it as the main dish.
About this Sorghum Pilaf with Lentils, Feta, and Grapes recipe
For my version of sorghum, I decided to make a pilaf that you can serve either as a side dish with chicken (or any other meat of your choice), or just by itself as the main dish. To increase its nutritional value, I added my favorite plant based protein, green lentils. In terms of lentils, I choose to use French green lentils (a.k.a du puy lentils) as unlike the regular green lentils, they do a better job of holding their shape during the cooking process. However, if you don’t have French lentils, it would be just as tasty with the regular ones.
Since I was going for a healthy vegetarian dish, I flavored it with some feta cheese, seedless red grapes, and fresh herbs (mint and dill). It ended up being a perfect lunch dish for a warm Caribbean afternoon.
On a final note, I should mention that it takes close to an hour to cook sorghum, which I hope will not deter you from trying it. I promise, it is totally worth your time. I recommend making a big batch of it, using some of it for this recipe, and adding the rest in your salads throughout the week.
Sorghum Pilaf with Lentils, Feta, and Grapes
- 1 cup whole grain sorghum rinsed (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
- 1/2 cup French green lentils picked over and rinsed
- 1 clove of garlic peeled (no need to mince)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dill chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves chopped – more as garnish
- coarse sea salt the amount depends on the saltiness of the feta cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup red seedless grapes washed and cut in half
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
- Place sorghum in a pot and add 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 55-60 minutes. Drain the excess liquid. Place it in a large bowl and set aside.
- Meanwhile, place lentils in a separate pot and cover it with water*. Water should reach at least 2 inches above the lentils. Add the garlic. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Make the vinaigrette by mixing vinegar, oil, herbs, salt* and pepper in small bowl.
- To make the pilaf: Add in the lentils, grapes, and feta cheese in the bowl with the cooked sorghum.
- Pour in the vinaigrette. Give it a gentle stir to make sure everything is homogenously mixed.
- Taste for seasoning (add if necessary), top it off with a couple of fresh mint leaves, and serve.