Discovering New Foods: Sorghum
Here at Nourish Northwest, we cook A LOT. Whether we are doing a private cooking lesson with a client, testing recipes for cooking classes, or making our own lunches, it seems as though we are always in the kitchen. Luckily, both Paula and I love to cook and feel so fortunate that we have found a way to make this such a big part of our day. However, we often end up repeating the same recipes over and over and can sometimes find it difficult to gather inspiration for something new.
Awhile back, Paula wrote a blog post on this same topic when we had purchased some new foods at Bob’s Red Mill. We left the big red barn with bags of grains that we had never cooked with before, excited and eager to try them out. But, we got a little busy, went back to our old routines and found these grains still sitting in their bags, months later. We decided it was time to give one of them a try.
Sorghum is a gluten free grain that is a staple in African and Indian diets. The first I heard its mention in America was on the label of a gluten free beer. It is very high in fiber and has a dense chewy texture, much like that of wheat berries or farro. It works very well in salads, pilafs and soups. It can also be popped, just like popcorn!
We decided to make a sorghum salad recipe that we found on thekitchn. We adapted it by leaving the squash out and stuffing it into red bell pepper halves, baking it and topping it with a romesco sauce! It turned out delicious and full of flavor! We will definitely be incorporating this grain into more of our recipes, especially since we have so many gluten free clients. It’s great to have a new option and I encourage you to try it sooner than we did!
Spiced Butternut Squash and Sorghum Salad with Raisins & Pepitas
For the salad:
2 cups uncooked sorghum
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 cups water
3/4 cup pepitas
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise and de-seeded
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup raisins
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 small shallot, finely minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
To cook the sorghum, combine the sorghum, vegetable stock and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 60 minutes, or until the grains are tender and have just begun to splay open. When finished cooking, drain away any remaining liquid.
While the sorghum cooks, roast the pepitas and the squash. Heat the oven to 350°F. Toast the pepitas for 5 to 7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside 1/2 cup of pepitas for the salad, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup for the topping.
Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Lay squash out onto one large baking sheets and drizzle with enough oil to fully coat the flesh. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then gently slice away the softened skin and cut each squash half into 1-inch cubes.
To assemble the salad, spoon the warm sorghum into a large serving bowl. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon and salt and stir until spices are fully integrated into the grain mixture. Spoon the squash, 1/2 cup of the pepitas, parsley and raisins over the sorghum and stir well to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sherry vinegar, orange juice, honey, and shallot. Pour over the warm grain salad and toss well.
Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm, with the remaining 1/4 cup of pepitas scattered on top.
- For this recipe, I cook the grains using part vegetable broth and part water. You could certainly use all broth or all water — I just like the little bit of extra flavor that partial broth imparts.
- While the sorghum may seem tender enough at 50 minutes of cook time, the grains will actually absorb spices and dressing better if you cook them until they are slightly splayed open — about 60 minutes. If you pull them at 50 minutes, the dressing will just pool at the bottom of the bowl instead of soaking into the grains for flavor.