Moroccan Chickpea & Millet Salad

Part of being back in school with a totally new schedule is figuring out how and when to eat. I used to have a pretty routine schedule – breakfast at home, sandwich for lunch, run, dinner at home. For one, I’m pretty sick of sandwiches. I just can’t eat them anymore. And two, I’m not home or away at such predictable times anymore. One thing I have been doing to make sure I always have food with me (after all, now that my income is about a quarter of what it once was, we and I cannot afford to just go buy a $10 lunch whenever I am hungry) is to make a big batch of interesting and nutritious salads. I’ve also been carrying around homemade granola that is pretty awesome – I’ll share that recipe soon also.


Anyway, this recipe was inspired by this Moroccan Chickpea recipe I saw recently on Serious Eats. I changed it up a bit and added some millet to add a little more substance for lunch. Millet is a new favorite of mine. It sort of feels and tastes like couscous, and it cooks up very quickly. I’ve also been looking for a way to use the preserved lemons that I made at the beginning of the summer, and this recipe fit perfectly. You can make your own by following this recipe or just use some fresh lemon zest and a little salt.


Moroccan Chickpea & Millet Salad

Extra virgin olive oil
~1/2 pound spinach, rinsed and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 large tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 preserved lemon rind, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup millet
salt and pepper

Combine the millet with 2 1/2 cups water in a pot, let the water come to an almost boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it sit for 20-25 minutes. Sauté the garlic in a little olive oil in a large pan for a minute or two, then add the chickpeas. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, tomato, cumin, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Add this mixture and the red wine vinegar to the pan with chickpeas and garlic and stir to make sure all the chickpeas are covered in this mixture. Now add the spinach and continue to cook until there is no more liquid in the pan. Pull off the heat and set aside. When the millet is finished, toss it with the chickpeas, preserved lemons, and salt and pepper.

Mushroom Risotto

I have been meaning to try a mushroom risotto for about a year now. I’ve had that Arborio rice sitting in my pantry for a good 12 months or so; I’ve just been lazy, you know? You hear about what hard work risotto is, how time-consuming the recipes are, and I just never find myself at that perfect intersection of wanting to make it and having enough time.


The Saturday before I left for Colombia, I found myself with the time and motivation and a bundle of mushrooms to boot, so risotto was finally in the cards. We served it alongside a really nice peppercorn and rosemary crusted pork tenderloin, the recipe for which I’ll share at a later date.

The recipe was really tasty, and you know what? Risotto is not that hard! It is time consuming, though. I always thought that risottos had to have loads of heavy cream to taste so creamy delicious, but apparently the starchiness of Arborio rice makes it taste so decadent. I didn’t add any cream (only a bit of parmesan) and it tasted really great – proof that you don’t need loads of fat for things to taste good. I also added spinach to add some green and nutrients. Just barely wilted, these leaves don’t really add much flavor compared to the mushrooms, but they certainly up the health factor. Next time, I’m going to try this with barley or brown rice and see what the effect is.

Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

adapted, generously, from Food and Wine

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
6 cups stock (I used a store bought, organic chicken broth, but I can imagine homemade would be amazing)
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 ounces fresh baby spinach, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes. Save the water.

In a saucepan, warm the stock to just under a boil. If it starts to boil, that’s fine – mostly, you want it warm so that the risotto cooks continuously rather than starting over every time you add more stock. Keep it on low heat.

In large saucepan (I used my big soup pot), melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, until coated.

In a separate pan, cook the cremini and shitaki mushrooms in butter on medium, slowly carmelizing them. Let these guys cook away on low heat the entire time you’re cooking the rice. , stirring, until they are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the white wine to the rice and simmer until it has almost evaporated. Add the reserved mushroom water, and 1 cup of the hot stock. Stir constantly until the liquid is completely soaked into the rice. Then add another cup of stock. Stir. Repeat. Continue this process until all the stock has been used up and the risotto is plump and tender.

At the end, stir in the mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and spinach. Serve.