Moroccan Spiced Millet and Lentil Salad

February 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Middle East / N. Africa, Salads, Website / blog) ()

A friend suggested I try this Vegetarian Times recipe for a Moroccan Spiced Millet and Lentil Salad, but I was nervous about making it since Derek normally hates millet. I will never forget the time he took a bite of millet and then made a terrible, disgusted grimace “What have you done to the rice?” he asked. “This is the worst rice ever!”

So I waited until he was out of town this summer and then I invited my friend over to make it with me. We made a somewhat deconstructed version of the salad, and other than the fact that I totally overcooked the millet, everyone enjoyed it. Alma (at 3.5) also really liked it. Finally last weekend I got up the nerve to make it for Derek and he liked it as well. He didn’t even complain about the fact that I was serving him birdseed for dinner. Score!

I didn’t measure anything. I just made a big pot of millet and one of lentils (way more than 1/2 cup!) and then put out bowls of all the ingredients and let people construct their own salads.

The only problem with the recipe is that the prep time is quite long because it has a ton of ingredients!

  1. 1/2 cup dry millet
  2. 1/2 cup cooked lentils + 1/4 cup for the dressing
  3. 2 medium carrots thinly sliced on sharp bias (1/2 cup)
  4. 2 Tbs. minced green olives
  5. 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  6. 1 small orange, cut into pieces
  7. 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  8. 1/4 cup sliced pitted Medjool dates + 1 date for the dressing
  9. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  10. 1 Tbs. chopped mint
  11. 1/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios
  12. 2 Tbs. olive oil
  13. 2 Tbs. orange juice
  14. 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  15. 1 tsp. ras el hanout spice blend

I’d like to try to simplify it a bit. What could be left out? I think the millet and lentils are essential, and probably the carrots since they are really the only vegetable in the “salad”. But the carrots didn’t add much besides crunch. Probably another vegetable could be substituted. I think the green olives are essential for that salty, briny note. I really like the fresh, juiciness that the fruit added, but Derek left out the pomegranate and Alma left orange out of hers. So probably you could just pick one fruit.

The ras el hanout spice is essential. Don’t try to skip it.

I quite liked the pistachios the first time I made this, but the second time I forgot to buy any shelled pistachios, and it was good even without them. I don’t love raw onions so I left them out of my salad.

The dates add a nice sweetness, but I’m not sure that you need them in both the salad and the dressing. The date pieces all kind of stuck together after I chopped them and were pretty hard to distribute in the salad. So maybe next time I’ll just put the in the dressing.

I quite liked the herbs in the salad but I suspect that the mint is more essential than the parsley.

I had to make my own ras el hanout spice blend, but I can’t remember which recipe I used. It was good, but a bit spicy. I had to leave it out of Alma’s dressing.

The first time I made this I thought blending dates and lentils together with a vinaigrette sounded kind of weird, so I just left out the dates and lentils. But the second time I followed the recipe (just doubled) and it came out really well. It’s tasty but different with a nice texture.

So here’s my guess at a simplified recipe, pared down to only 11 (!) essential ingredients:

  1. 1 cup dry millet
  2. 2 cups cooked lentils + 1/2 cup for the dressing
  3. 4 medium carrots thinly sliced on a sharp bias (1 cup, or try another vegetable)
  4. 4 Tbs. minced green olives
  5. 1 cup pomegranate seeds or 2 large oranges, cut into pieces (or mix and match, or substitute other fruit)
  6. a big handful of mint (mince or tear into pieces as needed)
  7. 4 Tbs. olive oil
  8. 4 Tbs. orange juice
  9. 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  10. 3 – 4 tsp. ras el hanout spice blend (more than the recipe calls for!)
  11. 4 normal-sized dates (for the dressing)

Optional ingredients:

  1. 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  2. 1/2 cup sliced pitted Medjool dates
  3. 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  4. 1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios

Another thing that would speed things up if if I can figure out how to make the millet and lentils together in my Instant Pot.

This last time I cooked 2 cups of millet in my Instant Pot with 3.25 cups of water for 10 minutes with natural release, and it came out perfect! But it made too much millet. Next time I will just cook 1 cup of millet with 1.75 cups of water for 10 minutes.

After the millet was done I cooked the lentils in my instant pot, but unfortunately they came out overcooked, even though I only cooked them for about 6 minutes I think. I think next time I will try cooking them pot-in-pot above the millet for 10 minutes. If they’re not done after 10 minutes I will try soaking them first.

Ideally the game plan would be put the millet and lentils on to cook, then while they’re cooking prep all the fresh additions, and have everything ready by the time the millet and lentils are done. Of course, then it would be a warm salad not a cold one, but I’m not sure it matters.

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