Mark Bittman's Autumn Millet Bake

Mark Bittman's Autumn Millet Bake Recipe


Mark Bittman wrote a giant, 996-page vegetarian cookbook....yes, that Mark Bittman. I know, I was a bit perplexed as well. And here's the thing, it's very good. That Autumn Millet Bake recipe you see up above, it's a Bittman creation. The first three times I saw How to Cook Everything Vegetarian in my local bookstore, I didn't even bother picking it up. I thought, "oh he just dusted off all the meatless recipes from his past books, columns, and television shows and stuck them in one volume. Yawn." I finally sat down with a review copy that was sent to me and I have to tell you, this book is fantastic - absolutely packed with great recipes, charts, illustrations, endless variations and ideas.

For the four or five of you who might not be familiar with Mark Bittman, instead of attempting to summarize his accomplishments for you, I thought it would be more fun to punch "Mark Bittman" into googlism.com to see what turned up. A few select returns:

- mark bittman is a highly regarded food journalist
- mark bittman is a cool dude and sensible to boot
- mark bittman is standing beside you walking you through everything
- mark bittman is a treasure
- mark bittman is the master of simplicity; reality cooking with no frou
- mark bittman is a culinary dance that should not be missed
- mark bittman is exacting but not
- mark bittman is as opinionated as they come

To that I'll add, he writes The Minimalist column for the New York Times, is globetrotting for a public television cooking series with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow in Spain (where no doubt his newfound love for meatless meals suffered some setbacks), and his cookbooks have sold millions.

Onto the big question, why would Mark Bittman write a massive, 2,000 recipe vegetarian cookbook? This is the man who can be seen from week to week on his current PBS show How to Cook Everything doing lamb five ways with Daniel Boulud, squab with Jean-Georges, or chicken over what looked like a jet-engine with Charles Phan. In his own words, "...what motivated me--several years ago--was seeing the handwriting on the wall: That although being a principled, all-or-nothing vegetarian was not a course of action that would ever likely inspire the majority of Americans, the days of all-meat-all-the-time (or, to be slightly less extreme, of a diet heavily dependent on meat) could not go on. Averaging a consumption of two pounds a week or more of meat (as Americans do) is not sustainable, either for the earth or our planet. And, as more and more of us realize this, I thought it was important to develop a cookbook along the lines of How to Cook Everything, but without meat, fish, or poultry." He also says, "I need to make something else clear: I'm not a vegetarian, and I'm not an advocate of a vegetarian diet; I'm an advocate of Americans eating fewer animal products - less meat, fish, poultry, and dairy." He goes into the environmental and health impacts of a meat-intensive diet here. I think Mark and I are very much on the same page, for those of you who are serious about living a more green lifestyle - one of the most important things you can do is eat less meat.

Here's the part that I love about this book (and it comes through eventually in Mark's Leonard Lopate interview). This is not a book about cooking vegetables. Mark Bittman is clearly excited about all the other ingredients that come into play when you start to phase out some (or all) of the meat in your diet. It is a cuisine that lends itself to a wonderful range of grains, legumes, salads, and produce. A few of the recipes I look forward to trying from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Spanish-Style Plantain Stew, Green Tea Broth with Udon Noodles, Bulgur Croquettes with Walnuts, Fresh Favas with Eggs and Croutons, Chickpea Fondue, Baked Lentil Samosas, and Cornmeal Pound Cake.

I made the Autumn Millet Bake yesterday, a largely hands-off winter squash-based casserole of sorts, and a perfect Thanksgiving recipe for those of you collecting ideas. The pop of the golden millet plays off the soft texture of the baked squash beautifully. The cranberries look like jewels dotting the top (I screwed up and used dried - still good), and the pumpkin seeds add satisfying crunch. The only part that took any time whatsoever was the cutting of the squash - you can use your favorite seasonal variety - pumpkin, butternut, acorn, etc. As far as the base grain is concerned, I used millet as the recipe called for, but as Mark mentions in his headnotes you can also use quinoa, teff, cracked wheat - whatever you have on hand. The other great thing about this recipe is you can do it all ahead of time if you like - just add the liquid before you pop it in the oven. Read the headnotes down below if you decide to give it a try, there are a few little things to pay close attention to.

In the end, a book that inspires for vegetarians, vegans, and most importantly people who want to incorporate more modern, inspired meatless meals into their diets - whatever their motivation. Bravo Bittman!

- Publisher's Weekly interview with Mark Bittman

- Mark Bittman talks about HTCEV on The Leonard Lopate Show.

- For anyone looking for other ways to play with millet (and you have my book onhand), there is a millet fried rice in there that is a "everyday" type recipe of mine.

 
 
 
 

Mark Bittman's Autumn Millet Bake Recipe

I screwed up a bit and used dried cranberries. If you are referencing the photo, you'll notice the shrivel factor. Still good. You can make this vegan, vegetarian, I used a bit of cream* - but you can use just stock or water. The real trick is getting the millet to cook all the way though, so don't over toast it, and keep adding liquids if you need to.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
3/4 cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts


Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes (hs note: don't overdo it). Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all (hs note: I did about 1/2 cup stock & 1/2 cup cream based on one of his variations). Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes.

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (hs note: This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking - I used another 1/4 cup+ of stock here). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned (hs note: and the millet is cooked through), another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature (hs note: drizzled with the remaining olive oil if you like).

Serves 4 to 6.

*In the end, I used 3/4 cup stock + 1/2 cup cream

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Your Comments


Gretchen
October 26, 2007

Heidi - this looks wonderful! I have Bittman's new book on my hold list at the library and can't wait to get my hands on it. I just made a Deborah Madison navy bean and winter squash soup all littered with sage (and fried sage/garlic breadcrumbs) the other night and it just screamed Thanksgiving. I was hoping for more veg recipes with that effect. This will fit the bill. Thanks!

 

joyce
October 26, 2007

Thanks for highlighting the versatility of this marvelous cook/teacher/author.

I follow his column in the NYTimes each week. Marvel at his ease of operation producing fabulous fare with whole foods. Fun that most is on video. I don't do TV so this is a great treat.

 

slierk
October 26, 2007

Heidi,
I just went to Amazon and bought Mark's new book & your book, as well.
I've been itching to treat myself to a little veggie/whole grain cookbook goodness, and your post made me take the plunge!
Thanks!
Sarah

 

chockylit
October 26, 2007

Great write up of what sounds like a great book. I have the meat version and while I do admit to loving meat I am trying to live green and cut back.

 

Natalie Sztern
October 26, 2007

What about:
Mark Bittman is single??

 

VeggieGirl
October 26, 2007

oh my goodness, what a lovely autumn millet bake!! wow!! and I LOVE that it's a vegan recipe - I MUST make this!!! Thanks for posting the recipe, Heidi!! :0)

 

mary
October 26, 2007

I *heart* Mark Bittman. I've followed his books, shows and the NY Times videos for a long time now and find that his recipes always turn out great and you're right, he's just a wonderful guide. Thanks for showcasing him.

 

Amber
October 26, 2007

I adore Bittman, and I adore Heidi's site, so I'm completely thrilled to see this post and the meeting of the minds!

 

Wendy
October 26, 2007

Never heard of him but trust your judgement completely. Thank goodness for Amazon! Not sure this would make it to the UK if he's not known here.

 

Julie
October 26, 2007

I have to admit--I always thought Bittman's books were all hype, but this dish looks beautiful, and after reading his post on Amazon, with him humbling himself to the benefits of eating fewer animal products, I'm more taken with the idea of trying one of his books out, especially this one. I already get a kick out of his "Best Recipes of the World" show on CreateTV! Thanks for this post!

 

piccola
October 26, 2007

If you have leftovers, they make fantastic croquettes/patties. Mine was sticky enough to shape as is, but you can add an egg if you need to.

 

Dee
October 27, 2007

I'm not sure how this will go down, but to bring this into fall I'm going to throw in some sage. I can't wait. I only hope that I can get my hands on some fresh cranberries here.

 

Curzon Tussaud
October 27, 2007

Possibly not yet available in the USA, Dennis Cotter's new book Wild Garlic, gooseberries..and me... read very very well. I have my copy already! Read the Amazon.co.uk review by going to
Possibly not yet available in the USA, Dennis Cotter's new book Wild Garlic, gooseberries..and me... read very very well. I have my copy already! Read the Amazon.co.uk review by going to

 

Curzon Tussaud
October 27, 2007

Sorry, everyone. My comment was previewed and submitted in one piece, but the blogware cut it at the Amazon.co.uk URL (which was rather long, I must admit!). The ISBN for the book is 9780007251971 and if you enter that into the Amazon.co.uk website under Books, you can read a synopsis and see some of the recipes listed. There's quite a lot of discursive comment about growing veg. which won't really apply to the Californian climate (that's addressed to Heidi) but is rather in the vein of Barbara Kingsolver's book read earlier in the year.

 

Nicole
October 27, 2007

If I were to make this with quinoa (not a millet fan), how would cooking times change?

 

Karina
October 27, 2007

What a fabulous review- I look forward to picking up Bittman's latest. The millet looks gorgeous- and it's gluten-free. Yay.

 

Angela
October 27, 2007

I made the dish this morning, but decided to half the recipe since it's just me. Not sure if I got the baking time right as I found the millet a bit dry. Any recommendations on how to adjust baking times when you are halfing a recipe.

 

Tina
October 27, 2007

I'm so glad you wrote about how good his book is. I bought it a week ago and finally made the Green Tea Broth with Udon Noodles. The recipe and pics are up on my site - it came out amazingly well. I also made the dumpling dough and dumplings - fantastic! What I love about Bittman is that he really makes things accessible. Try the broth with noodles, asap.

 

Abby
October 27, 2007

I love Mark's NYT column, and I pull how How to Cook Everything VERY often to answer a question or learn something new! I love it. Thanks for a great write-up!

 

KathyF
October 28, 2007

There's just something about "millet bake" that brings up images of the worst of '70s-era vegetarian cooking. Hopefully the rest of his recipes are more representative of modern veggie cooking.

 

YOYO's Cooking
October 28, 2007

is Mark Bittman a single?

hehe

 

The Flying Trapeze
October 28, 2007

Holy cow, this recipe is incredible!! Heidi, I used fresh cranberries and the amount of liquid (1/2 cup stock, 1/2 cup cream) was perfect - I wonder if it's because of the extra liquid from the cranberries? I also used quinoa instead of millet, so maybe that also made a difference.

Also, i forgot to raise the oven temp during the 15 min of uncovered cooking - so my end result looked completely different (pic on my blog for the curious...)

 

Heidi
October 28, 2007

Oh yeah, wow, the quinoa version looks delicious. Nice and fluffy. -h

 

shivapriya
October 28, 2007

Hey Heidi,
I love ur recipes and writeup's . I'm adding to my blogroll. I hope that's fine with you.

 

Natalie Sztern
October 28, 2007

two questions: what if I used canned pure pumpkin which would also add the extra mosture needed? Are the pumpkin seeds raw or baked?

 

Mercedes
October 28, 2007

I have to say I am one of Mark Bittman's detractors (having made many of his columns with ess than stellar results) but I will give him credit because what he lacks in depth he makes up for in shear breadth.
In my experience investigating traditional cuisines, you often discover healthful whole-grain and vegetable recipes. In Egypt kamut grain, in Syria bulgur, in Peru quinoa. Cuisines that have existed for thousands of years have had to be suistainable, they use meat and fish sparingly, more as flavoring elements, and rely on whole grains dating from before high processing techniques were engineered.
Bittman has managed to gather a lot of these recipes from different cultures or using traditional ingredients, and it sounds like that is what will make this a good cookbook.

 

Valerie Arnade
October 29, 2007

I made this last night--thanks for the inspiration. It was really good, I couldn't stop eating it. I used all vegetable broth. The one thing I would do differently next time would be to double the fresh cranberries. The sour was a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash. I'd also consider adding some warming spices like cinnamon and ground coriander. Ginger would be good also.

 

Carly
October 29, 2007

I've been staring at the acorn squash on my counter for about a week now wondering what to do with it. How perfect that this will also help me use up the rest of my millet, and those cranberries I bought the other day... looking forward to trying it!

 

Foodie Princess
October 29, 2007

I can't wait to get my copy of the new book, Mark Bittman is awesome. His cookbook "How to Cook Everything" is the only one that is actually in the kitchen (the rest are on my bookcase), its always the first book I go to when I'm referencing something.

 

Will
October 29, 2007

I am a huge Mark Bittman fan--his approach (simple, with variations and keys to success) really helped me develop my skills and confidence when I was a bachelor. I am a bit surprised at your surprise, though, as a number of his columns and books (esp. the Best Recipes in the World) feature vegetarian recipes.

The bake is in the oven as I type. I couldn't seem to account for all of the oil that's in the ingredient list.

 

Ellen
October 29, 2007

You persuaded me to buy this book!

 

The Secret Ingredient
October 29, 2007

I have a number of Bittman's books, which I use mostly for reference, but they are definitely chock-full of information. He lives here in Connecticut where I am, so I was able to hear him talk a year or so ago about his international cookbook (which I don't actually own). I'll check out the veggie book---thx for pointing me to it! I like the simplicity of his recipes, which just seem to "work"--- without all the froof (which I don't think is a word---but you get what I mean!). Millet is another grain on my list of things to start using more frequently---so thx for posting this yummy looking recipe!

 

Snehal
October 29, 2007

That looks crunchy and fantastic! I wonder what other seeds and stuff as toppings could be substituted for added variety ... sunflower seeds or spiced peanuts? I must say, I am one of those 4-5 people who had not heard about Mr. Bittman [he isn't talked about much in this part of the world ... the focus being mainly on local and British Chefs], but was fascinated by what you wrote and heave been reading about him and his books. Thanks for an eye-opener:)

 

Karen
October 30, 2007

I tried it and it was my first time using millet, fresh berries, and yes- squash. And it turned out fantastically! I will probably go with pumpkin next time for more color and use the cream option (and more honey!)

Actually, I think it was better on the second helping!

 

Sarah
October 30, 2007

You know, I really liked your site until you dissed on Mark Bittman. Not cool!

 

Sarah
October 30, 2007

I have this sitting on my desk at work and can't wait to delve more deeply in. And his reason for writing the book made me fall just a little bit more in love with him. If you've seen his tv show, it's kind of hard not to love that big jewish teddy bear of a guy.

 

Jill
October 30, 2007

Wow- I admit that before this recipe I had not even heard of millet! And yet it looks delicious!

 

Emily
October 31, 2007

Thanks for posting this recipe. "How to Cook Everything" is my favorite all-purpose cookbook, and now I think I will have to save up for the vegetarian edition. I made the recipe last night and it was suprisingly good for some thing so healthy. I used quinoa, because I had some on hand, and it cooked perfectly.

 

Emily
October 31, 2007

Thanks for posting this recipe. "How to Cook Everything" is my favorite all-purpose cookbook, and now I think I will have to save up for the vegetarian edition. I made the recipe last night and it was suprisingly good for some thing so healthy. I used quinoa, because I had some on hand, and it cooked perfectly.

 

Nora
October 31, 2007

I was thrilled to find that you are as inspired paging through Mark's latest doorstop as I have been since it arrived in mail 2 wks ago. The millet bake is now on my T-giving list -- great suggestion.

I [heart] Bittman -- but here's my criticism: I don't believe that he tests the variations on his recipes. I recently made a ricotta and zucchini tart w a potato crust from the new vegetarian book -- a variation of the "master" recipe which is w. goat cheese & tomato. The tart turned out all wrong -- I think in part b/c of the liquid in ricotta & sauteed zucchini. I had my suspicions ab. this but decided to trust him on his measurements. I'm normally a very independent-minded cook & wish I had simply read it over and gone by own way.

Let's face it, the publicist has counted up more than 2,000 recipes but in fact it's only a fraction of that that are *true* recipes (tried n' tested). I've resolved to take the variations as "suggestions," and ignore their "recipe" elements (like measurements) in favor of ... intuition. And practice, of course, will make my tart perfect. This is, however, what we go to cookbooks for.

Aw well, I'm still wild ab. the book and the author!