Saturday, May 9, 2009
Millet and Raw Asparagus Salad
We eat a lot of salads in our house. I am always looking for new ways to add vegetables to our diet. Asparagus is something that we eat a lot in the spring. Typically we eat our asparagus lightly cooked. Today I wanted to try something with raw asparagus that became the starting point for this salad. As usual I wanted the salad to be filled with healthful ingredients. I have outlined the benefits of the major salad ingredients below.
Millet is a whole grain that is a good source of vitamin K and magnesium. Vitamin K is necessary for normal blood clotting. Magnesium has been shown to lower high blood pressure and to reduce the severity of asthma and the frequency of migraine headaches.
Asparagus is high in folate, which is essential for cardiovascular health. Asparagus also contains inulin, which the human body cannot digest but the good bacterium in our digestive tracts does. When the good bacteria in our digest system thrives there is less room for the bad bacteria.
The raw red onion is high in chromium that helps the body to respond appropriately to insulin. Regular consumption of onion has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. The antioxidant quercitin that is found in raw red onion has been shown to halt the growth of tumors in animals. A number of studies have also shown that those populations that consume the most onions also exhibit a lower incidence of all types of cancer.
This salad incorporates a number of healthful ingredients and tastes great too. This middle eastern inspired salad may become a regular on your spring table.
Millet and Raw Asparagus Salad
makes 6 dinner servings
1 cup of millet
2 ½ cups of water
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ red onion, diced finely (approximately ¼ inch)
12 ounces fresh asparagus, but into 1/8 inch rounds
zest and juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon of harissa
1 teaspoon of sumac
¼ cup olives, diced
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
Combine millet, water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Then turn off heat and allow millet to stand undisturbed for 10 minutes.
Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, Harissa, and sumac and stir to combine. Add diced onion and asparagus to the dressing and toss to coat. Add cooked millet to dressed vegetables and toss to coat. If you choose you can add diced olive and parsley at this point in the recipe. Stir salad to evenly distribute these into the mix. Store salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Serve cold over field greens or mesclun mix. If desired garnish with chopped olives and minced parsley.
This salad is lemony and fresh. It has a hint of heat in the background. If you like heat you can safely double the amount of harissa in the recipe. If you don’t eat raw asparagus you should give this salad a try. I love the slightly crunchy texture of the asparagus and raw onion that is contrasted to the softness of the cooked millet. The cold salad is a nice counterpoint to the heat from the harissa in the background. Next time I may add chopped walnuts to this salad for a little additional texture.