June 5, 2010

Black Pepper Asparagus with Millet and Bacon

Michigan asparagus soon to be gone for the season and Michigan strawberries just in.  I love the farmer's market in the spring!  Penny was very good at the market and shopping this morning but just refuses to be out in the garden with me.  So I'm inside cooking and blogging instead, the tomato plants will have to wait.

I've been eating a lot of millet lately.  It was one of the grains I made and froze for post baby eating, along with brown rice and quinoa which also freeze well cooked.  I hadn't eaten millet much before but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise when I realized how much I loved the corn-like flavor and fluffy texture.  Now I'm craving it.  Don't they say that thin people eat "like birds"?  My chickadees love millet!  A perfect get off the baby weight food!  Regardless, here's a great combination I made today that also utilizes my new favorite way to make asparagus.

Basic Millet Pilaf
Makes ~3 cups of millet

1 cup whole millet
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

-Toast the millet in a dry saucepan until it smells nutty and turns a light golden brown.
-Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes or until tender.
-Fluff with a fork and serve.  Or...
To store in the freezer for later:  Spread out the cooked millet on a baking sheet, allow to cool to room temperature, freeze and then crumble and bag.  When needed, shake out and warm in the microwave covered with waxed paper or in the oven covered with parchment.

Black Pepper Asparagus with Millet and Bacon
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a meal

1lb fresh asparagus spears, chopped into 1 inch sections
3 cups prepared millet pilaf
4 slices of bacon, sliced into lardons *or see meat-free variations at end
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Heat up a skillet, cast iron is best for this, and add the lardons.  Cook until crispy.
-Remove the crispy lardons to a serving bowl and pour off almost all of the bacon fat.
-Make sure the pan is hot and add the asparagus.  Salt the asparagus lightly and grind on a generous amount of black pepper.
-Cook the asparagus over high heat tossing occasionally until it starts to brown and is hot and cooked through but still slightly crunchy.
-If you are using pre-frozen millet heat it up.
-Toss the heated millet, crispy bacon lardons and asparagus with the lemon juice and more black pepper.  Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice/salt/pepper to your own taste.
-Serve with a side of Michigan strawberries for the best effect.

Meat-free variations:
-Chop Fakin' Bacon (smoked tempeh) into lardons and fry in 1 tablespoon of oil until crispy. 
-Caramelize 1/2 cup of chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of oil and use in place of bacon.

Fritz our dachshund caught a tomato hornworm moth this week.  John and Alex decided I couldn't kill it to protect my garden and so they relocated it.  My sincere apologies to the tomato gardener this guy finds.