Sorghum Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Beets, and Cranberries [gluten-free, soy-free, vegan]

If you own my cookbooks or looked at any of my baking recipes, you likely know that I favour sorghum as a flour of choice. I’ve waxed its poetics at book talks and in the front matter of my books, and can tell you at length why I love it (and why you should, too).

But though we’re likely most familiar with the flour, and perhaps the syrup, it (not surprisingly) comes in an easily accessible whole grain form, too.

And here’s the thing: it’s pretty darn delicious.

sorghum, brussels, beets

To give you some sorghum specifics, the ancient, gluten-free grain is a staple food in India and Africa, and is prepared similarly to brown rice, cooking a little longer (about 50 minutes), though requires a 3-to-1 ratio of liquid to grain. It is an excellent source of fibre and protein, and has a hearty, chewy texture that is similar to wheat berries or short grain brown rice. It stands up well in both hot and cold dishes, and can even be popped like popcorn. The taste is neutral—tasting slightly nutty—and easily takes on flavor from other ingredients.

For Canadian Thanksgiving, I prepared it stuffing style, in a pilaf-inspired dish full of colors and flavor. But I love it all ways–tossed with kale in a salad, mixed with other grains in side dishes, used in place of pasta and rice in anything and everything. And lately, a hot cereal stand-in.

sorghum, brussels, beets 3

My recommendation? Start with this. And if you’re American, make this for your Thanksgiving. If you’re not, make it anyway.

Sorghum Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Beets, and Cranberries

This dish has all the right textures and flavors—hearty sorghum is paired with creamy Brussels sprouts, sweet beets, and tart cranberries with the underlying fall-inspired herbs and spices and earthy mushrooms. The sorghum can be swapped with other grains—just be sure to adjust the cooking time. If you want to add some crunch, toss in a generous handful of toasted hazelnuts or pecans before serving.

Serves 6 as a side dish

3 tablespoons (45mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup (240mL) finely chopped celery (with leaves)
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon (3mL) poultry seasoning
1/8 teaspoon (1mL) fine sea or Himalayan salt
2 3/4 cup (660mL) water
3/4 cup (180mL) sorghum grain, rinsed
1/2 ounce (14g) dried mixed mushrooms
1 pound (454g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
3/4 pound (340g) beets, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup (240mL) fresh cranberries
Fine sea or Himalayan salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Heat 1 tablespoon (15mL) of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery and onion and cooked until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, poultry seasoning, and salt. Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the water, sorghum, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until the sorghum has absorbed the water and is cooked through, about 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the Brussels sprouts and beets with the remaining oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with the cranberries. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the Brussels sprouts and beets are cooked through and starting to brown and caramelize, about 30 minutes. Let stand until the sorghum is finished cooking.

When the sorghum has finished cooking, add the Brussels sprouts mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm.

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