Tackling the Bulk Bins: Savory Millet Cakes

I’ve got my Thanksgiving dinner menu down to a science, but making Easter dinner always sends me scrambling to find new recipes for side dishes. I have yet to make a dinner where I thought the entire meal worked well together.

This year, the side dish that I’ve decided to add to the meal is savory millet cakes. I saw the recipe in the latest issue of Eating Well. Remembering my commitment to trying new grains from the bulk bins at the grocery store, I gave it a try earlier this week.

Millet is used like a grain but is technically a seed. It is used more often for bird feed in the U.S. than it is for people food, but in India it’s their grain of choice. In Africa, South America, China, and Russia it’s a common food. It’s full of magnesium, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, phoshorus, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Perhaps we need to start to embrace millet here in the U.S.

Another plus - these were very inexpensive to make. All of the ingredients cost about $3.00.

I cooked the millet and made the cakes on Monday, but I didn’t get to pan fry the cakes until yesterday. They kept just fine covered in the refrigerator. I also froze half of the un-fried ones for another time. I had no idea what they would taste like when they were done, but they turned out to be deliciously savory (hence the name). Crispy on the outside; soft and creamy on the inside. For my personal taste, I would reduce the amount of pepper next time I make these, but other than that, all of the ingredients meshed well. My six-year-old gave these cakes a thumbs-up after initially being reluctant to try them.

I did make one change. I fried them in a small amount of olive oil instead of spraying the pan with pan spray.


  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (regular olive oil would be fine)
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup uncooked millet (millet always comes hulled so you probably see it called hulled millet in the bins)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1⁄2 tsp course salt
  • 1/3 cup coarsely shredded zucchini
  • 1/3 cup coarsely shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1⁄2 tsp dried (I used dried)
  • 1 tsp grated freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1⁄4 tsp freshly ground pepper (I’ll use 1/8 tsp next time)

Heat olive oil in a saucepan on med-high heat. Saute onion in oil for about 3 minutes. Then add garlic and millet and stir for half a minute or so.

  • Add water and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring twice during that time. At the end of this step all of the water will not be absorbed.
  • Stir in zucchini, carrot, Parm cheese, thyme, lemon zest and pepper.
  • Leave uncovered and cook another 10 minutes or so until all water is absorbed. Stir frequently during this time.
  • Remove from heat and stir a few times over the next 10 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for about a half hour.
  • Wet your hands and form into cakes using about 1/3 cup of mix. The recipe said it would make 12. I got 10 from the mix.
  • Cook in a heated skillet that has been coated with cooking spray or thin coating of olive oil. Cook 3-5 minutes on one side, flip, and cook 3-5 minutes on the other. Since my cakes were cold from the refridgerator, I cooked mine a bit longer.