Mark Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake Recipe
This millet bake recipe is a largely hands-off, winter squash-based casserole that uses golden millet, baked squash, pumpkin seeds and jewel-toned cranberries. A perfect Thanksgiving recipe for those of you collecting ideas.
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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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.
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!
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.
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.
What a fabulous review- I look forward to picking up Bittman's latest. The millet looks gorgeous- and it's gluten-free. Yay.
If I were to make this with quinoa (not a millet fan), how would cooking times change?
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
I adore Bittman, and I adore Heidi's site, so I'm completely thrilled to see this post and the meeting of the minds!
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.
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)
What about: Mark Bittman is single??
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.
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
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.
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!
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