Something Different
Week of: September 29, 2014
Download 300 dpi photo
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Discover Millet, a Tender Grain
To Cook in 20 Minutes

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

You have probably never tasted millet, a small golden grain that when uncooked resembles cous cous and quinoa. Cooked, it is a remarkably versatile whole grain. Millet can grow in harsh conditions where no other grains will survive. It is a mainstay in parts of Africa and Asia.

Interest in eating millet has grown recently because of people looking for gluten-free grains. Also, eco-conscious chefs like Dan Barber from Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, in Westchester County, New York, are cooking with millet because growing it has low impact on the land compared to other grains.

I discovered millet back when I explored eating a macrobiotic diet. I got to like it because you cook millet like rice or quinoa and it is ready in about 20 minutes. Thanks to its soft flavor and creamy texture, you can then do many things with it.

After preparing millet using water, broth or fruit juice, you can serve it as porridge, adding cinnamon, raisins, nuts and your favorite form of milk. Or mash it like potatoes – especially good when you smash some steamed cauliflower in with it. You can also serve millet mixed with Parmesan cheese like polenta.

Toast millet before adding the cooking liquid and it comes out even lighter, producing fluffy, well-separated grains perfect for making grain-based salads and side dishes like this one including corn and kale.

Millet and Kale

Millet with Kale and Corn

  • 8 oz. green curly kale, about 6 large leaves
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2/3 cup millet
  • 3-4 cloves, garlic roasted*
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Boil large pot of water.

To stem kale, in one hand hold a leaf stem pointing up. With your other hand, fold right sides of leaf together like closing a book. Starting at base of leaf, pull leaf down and away, tearing it from stem. Work your way down until leaf is detached from stem. Repeat to stem all kale. Pile leaves together and finely chop them. Discard stems.

Boil kale for 5 minutes. Drain in colander, then run cold water over leaves and swoosh them in colander until kale is room temperature. A handful at a time, squeeze as much moisture as possible from kale, and set it aside.

Combine vegetable broth with 1 cup water and set aside. In strainer, rinse millet under running cold water, then shake vigorously to drain well. Put millet in heavy medium saucepan and set it over medium heat. Using wooden spatula, stir often until millet is dry and grains separate, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until millet smells toasty, 2-3 minutes. Off heat, stand back while pouring in broth mixture, which will spatter. Return pot to burner, reduce heat to simmer and cook, tightly covered, until millet is tender, 18-20 minutes. Off heat, let covered millet sit for 10 minutes. Using fork, fluff millet.

Transfer millet to mixing bowl. Mash garlic into hot millet. Add corn, and kale, pulling it apart with your fingers, and mix to combine millet with vegetables. Mix in oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm as grain side dish, accompanied by cooked beans for meatless meal or at room temperature as grain salad.

* For roasted garlic: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove loose, papery covering from head of garlic. Cut across top of garlic head down far enough to expose tips of all cloves. Coat garlic head with cooking spray or oil and wrap in foil. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until head yields easily when pressed through foil. To use garlic, press cloves until flesh emerges.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 170 calories, 4 g total fat (0 g saturated fat),
30 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 289 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

All active news articles