Millet Burgers with Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Pecorino

Meat is swapped for grains in this spin on the classic veggie burger.

By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

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Serves: 6
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Time savers: Use 2 1/3 cups millet cooked until the grains are creamy like a porridge; begin the recipe at step 2.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (720 ml) water
  • 1 cup millet
  • 10 chopped sun-dried tomatoes (do not use packed sun-dried tomatoes)
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted about 5 minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant
  • 1/4 cup packed grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 large caper berries, stemmed and then minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Directions

1. Bring the water and millet to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly until it’s like a thick, coarse, hot breakfast cereal, about 30 minutes. Uncover and stir well to incorporate any last bits of water. Scrape the millet into a large bowl and cool for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan about a third of the way with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Put the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic in a small bowl; cover with the boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes.

3. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic in a colander set in the sink. Add them to the bowl with the cooked millet. Add the    olives, pine nuts, Pecorino, minced caper berries, oregano, and marjoram. Stir well, mashing the ingredients together. You want texture here, bits of this and that scattered throughout the burgers, not a baby-food purée. Use dampened hands to form the mixture into 6 patties.

4. Melt the butter in the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, preferably a nonstick one. Slip the patties into the skillet and cook until mottled brown and somewhat crisp, about 4 minutes. Flip them with a thin spatula and continue cooking until set throughout, mottled brown on the other side, and now nicely crisp, about 4 more minutes.

Testers’ Notes

  • Here, we’ve used an Italian palette to balance the aromatic millet. Note that the recipe calls for the larger, oblong caper berries, not capers.
  • The timing for cooked millet is a bit dodgy since the grains are notorious for picking up and holding ambient humidity—as well as releasing it in a dry environment. Don’t stand on ceremony: lift the lid and check the millet as it cooks, adding more water as necessary. You want crunchy texture but no distasteful grit.
  • These patties would be a treat on whole-wheat buns with a little purchased caponata as well as thinly sliced red onion and crunchy lettuce. You could also slice the cooked patties into bite-sized bits and toss them in a large, Italian-style, chopped salad, dressed with a creamy vinaigrette.
  • These patties don’t reheat as well as some of the others, although they do make great late-night snacks right from the fridge, cut into small pieces and dipped in deli mustard.

 

Make It Easier!

In truth, these millet burgers can be made with lots of the ingredients found on your supermarket’s salad bar: olives of all sorts, roasted red peppers, and the like. Just keep in mind an Italian antipasto flavor palette to create your own version.

From the book Grain Mains by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

Photo: Tina Rupp

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