Last night, I finally got around to using the remainder of sorghum that’s been sitting in my freezer for several months. I’ve used sorghum in place of barley in several soups, but I have yet to make a dish that has the grain as its primary focus.
At this point, you may be asking yourself “what the heck is sorghum?!!” Kevin asked the same thing when I first purchased it. Poured straight from the package, sorghum looks similar to spelt or barley, but rounder. Or, as Kevin noted when he wandered into the kitchen, “It looks…biblical.”
His wrinkled nose was a hieroglyph of his disdain; I knew he wasn’t envisioning a side-dish miracle akin to water into wine. More likely, it was Noah and his ark: the grains look like something stowed onboard for 40 days and 40 nights of rough weather, and even rougher meals.
The words “similar to spelt” didn’t exactly generate waves of excitement, either. I was tempted to goad him further with a mock agenda for the rest of my week: weaving my own clothes and boiling homemade lard soap.
But there is something to Kevin’s biblical sidebar, because sorghum is, in fact, an ancient grain, perhaps one of the oldest cultivated crops of all.
From a modern perspective, it has tremendous appeal: it is naturally gluten-free, the nutrition is off the charts (rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E, easily digested), the flavor is delicious (nutty, yet neutral for a wide range of flavor additions), and the texture is tender, with a pleasing chewiness (great for soups, salads, side-dishes and more).
So late-afternoon I set to prepping my sorghum for an autumn flavors-inspired pilaf, plump with roasted sweet potatoes and rosemary. Sorghum take awhile to cook, but it is unattended simmering time on the stovetop. Moreover, the sorghum can be cooked ahead of time, cooled, refrigerated and stored for several days (or frozen for several months) until you are ready to use it.
While the sorghum cooked, I prepped my sweet potatoes and rosemary.
And, also, proceeded to give the sweet potatoes a short blast in the oven:
I sautéed the white portions of chopped green onions, and then added the rosemary, cooked sorghum, and a splash of water. After a bit of cooking and occasional stirring, in went the sweet potatoes, and , finally, the green tops of the green onions.
I served it to Kevin as a supper side-dish. I had already gobbled half a dozen forkfuls in the making of the pilaf and knew I was smitten, but I was anxious for Kevin’s appraisal. He tucked in, and began a tentative chew. Then he looked up, smiling. Perhaps not a miracle, but, without doubt, a revelation.
- 6 cups water
- ½ cup uncooked sorghum
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 4 green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- ½ cup water
- In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil; add the sorghum and boil, uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes until sorghum is very tender. Drain.
- While sorghum boils, preheat oven to 425F. On a baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 22 to 27 minutes until tender.
- In a large silet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the white parts of green onions; saute for 3 minutes.
- Add the drained sorghum, rosemary, sweet potatoes, and water to skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes until water is absorbed. Stri in green parts of green onions and season to taste with salt and pepper.