Springtime brings fresh herbs to our forests and meadows. Many of them are edible and we not only use them to flavour food, but also cleanse our bodies and boost our immune systems after winter.
Wild garlic, or bear garlic (medvedí cesnak), as we call it in Slovak, appears in our latitudes towards the end of April. We in Slovakia only use its leaves, which have a strong pungent smell, but taste delicate and smoother than clove garlic. Bear garlic has been proven to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attack or stroke. It is also used for treating digestive problems and cleanse our bodies from toxins.
Millet is one of the oldest grains in the world. It was a staple food of Slavic people, including our Slovak ancestors, who used it regularly to cook a sweet kasha (a kind of porridge), or savoury meat and vegetable dishes. In the second half of the 20th century old cereals like millet, buckwheat or oats were replaced by rice and almost disappeared from our tables.
Millet, called pšeno in Slovak, is now experiencing a culinary comeback in my country. It is gluten-free, rich in protein and fibre, several B vitamins and minerals. To cook millet the right way, I used this guide from someone who sounds like a real professional.
Walnuts are the most popular and most widespread nuts in Slovakia. We mainly use them as a filling for our cakes and pastries. But why not include them in a savoury dish if you have a good supply of organic walnuts from your friend’s garden? Here’s a simple recipe for a millet stir-fry with just a few locally sourced ingredients.
Millet Stir-Fry with Walnuts and Bear Garlic
- ½ cup millet
- a handful of bear garlic leaves
- a handful of walnuts
- 2 tablespoons oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- water as needed
- Place the millet in a sieve and rinse it thouroughly under running water. Transfer to a bowl and submerge in cold water. Let soak for 4 – 8 hours, then discard the water and rinse the millet again several times. Let drain in a sieve.
- Rinse each leave of the bear garlic under running water and let dry on a worktop. Chop the walnuts on a wooden board.
- Transfer the drained millet to a saucepan and fill it with water approximately 1cm (0.5in) above the surface of the millet. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, take away the froth that forms on the surface and cook, partially covered, for 5 – 7 minutes, until the millet has absorbed all the water. Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan completely, and let sit on the stovetop for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the bear garlic leaves. Warm the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped walnuts and fry, moving them around the pan until the nuts are lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Fluff the cooked millet up with a fork and transfer to the walnuts. Fry for a couple of more minutes, then throw in the chopped bear garlic leaves. Stir well, adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat. Divide into bowls and serve immediately.