This is a Full Circle meal for us – it originated in our Waldorf kindergarten days at Hawthorne Valley School. It was a very clever system in place there. Children went for between one and three years, depending on their age, and all veterans taught the ropes to the younger ones. Learning the ropes included learning to love the snacks. If the big kids liked it, the little kids ate it too, and generation by generation, each class learned to love foods that most kids in the general population wouldn’t gravitate towards.
Each day there was a different snack in the Rose Room kindergarten. On Wednesdays they ate millet pizza. Likely there were reasons behind that choice – everything is done for a reason in Waldorf school! Well, one reason was that millet is “the” grain associated with Mercury, the day that governs Wednesday. I remember being so surprised when it finally clicked for me, some time in high school, that so many of the words in Spanish were similar to French – the days of the week, for example. Mercredi or miercoles equals Wednesday. The day of Mercury. How had I never known about that before?
Anyway, this could be a long and rambling post about language, astrology, all things Steiner, and get quite esoteric, but I shall just say that my daughters still love millet pizza. It’s a comfort food and a favorite meal for them. It ain’t easy to find millet here, let me tell you. But I was able to order a 3-kilogram bag of organic millet through Dr. Gwen since she orders food from the Suma co-op. We’ve nearly finished it.
Even though I’ve been making millet pizza for about ten years, nearly every one I’ve made in England has been met with quite a few complaints. The one I made this week was finally acceptable. Really good, actually. Here’s the recipe, using my American measuring cups – apologies to anyone wanting to use weight measurements.
1 and 1/2 cups millet, rinsed
1-2 Tbs butter
1 and 1/4 cups filtered water or broth, as you like
1 tsp sea salt
about 1/2 cup tomato sauce (they call it “passata” here – new word for me)
grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, 180 C. Rinse the millet with cold water very well several times, to wash off the saponins. You will need a small-gauge sieve to do this, or risk losing most of the millet down the sink. Put the millet in to a large saucepan over medium heat and dry fry the millet for a few minutes, until an aroma develops and a few of the kernels might begin to pop.
Add the butter and continue to cook, stirring for a couple of minutes to coat the millet grains with the melted butter. Add the water and salt, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. The water should be all absorbed.
Let the millet rest off the heat for a few minutes while you select and oil a casserole dish – any medium-sized, deep ceramic dish will do. Use a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom and sides of the dish well. Empty the millet into the dish and use a wooden spoon to press it into a flat, even “crust” that should fill about half the depth of the dish. The millet should stick together and not fall apart. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the surface and then spread the tomato sauce evenly over the top of the crust.
Top with shredded cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and smell delicious.
What I was doing “wrong” for so long is that I was making the millet very mushy. It was too wet, likely because I was soaking the millet overnight. My usual practice with grains is to soak them in filtered water plus a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. This is meant to inactivate the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid present in grains that cause decreased absorption of important minerals. I think it makes the grains taste better too. You can read all about it in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, or on the Weston A. Price website. But I shan’t do it for millet pizza any longer, at least not with the millet I can get here – a good rinse shall have to do.