Kabocha-Millet Squares (or Triangles)

These squares (or triangles!) are one of my go-tos for something substantial, comforting and cute.  Grilled, roasted or pan-fried, they make a beautiful foundation for any number of toppings be it beans in gravy, a medley of vegetables and nuts, or a slab of BBQ tofu with sauce.  While dry-toasting the millet is an optional step, it is recommended to add extra depth of flavour to this otherwise simple fare.  Be sure to check out the variations at the end of the recipe: there are quite a few improvisations on this theme both sweet and savory, soft and not, all of which are delicious.

Yield: an 8”x8” pan of squares/triangles, 1” to 2” thick

What you need:

  • 1 cup yellow millet
  • 4 cups peeled and diced kabocha squash (about 1/2 a squash, 1” dice)
  • 3 cups water
  • salt as desired (if serving with something salty, no need to salt much.  If serving with something less flamboyant in flavour, then salt accordingly)

What you do:

  1. Optional but recommended – dry toast the millet.  To do this, preheat the oven to 300F.  Pour the millet into an 8”x8” baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until a shade darker and fragrant.  The colour change can be hard to evaluate: follow your nose; it usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes depending on the oven.  Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. Line an 8”x8” pan with parchment paper.
  3. Place the millet, water, salt and diced squash in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.  (If you don’t do pressure cookers, go to step 3 for the stove-top instructions).  Bring to pressure, lower heat and cook for 40 minutes.  Allow pressure to release naturally or quick-release, as you please.  For the Instant Pot gang, 40 minutes on multigrain setting with natural or quick-release.           IMG_3827
  4. (If you pressure cooked, go to step 4).  To make this on the stovetop put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat as much as you can and let simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed and the squash is soft.               IMG_3831
  5. Mash the contents of the pot together to form a mostly uniform, very heavy and sticky mass.                                                                                                           IMG_3833
  6. Press the mixture into the lined 8”x8” baking pan.  When it stops steaming, refrigerate several hours until set.                                                             IMG_3845
  7. Lift the parchment out of the pan and set the layer of kabocha-millet on a counter or cutting board.  Slice into squares or triangles.  Freeze some for later and then grill, roast or pan-fry the pieces before topping and serving.

Variations:

  • Serve the cooked millet and squash as is, without mashing, for a hearty and warming side dish;
  • Add ground spices that you like to the mixture before setting it to cook in the pressure cooker;
  • Increase the water by 1 or 2 cups (depending on how loose you want the finished dish) and then mash; serving as a side dish to replace mashed potatoes or polenta.  It will harden as it cools, but won’t hold together as densely as the squares from the original recipe above;
  • Make this a decadent breakfast by cooking the squash and millet in nut milk (think cashew, pecan or walnut) with only a pinch of salt and a handful of raisins;
  • Replace the kabocha squash with sweet potato or carrot.

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