Sorghum: The Versatile Grain You’ll Fall For

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BY MEGAN GORDON

In our kitchen, the cooler months beg for pantry items that are versatile. I often find myself hunkering down a bit more than usual in the winter, as many of us do in Seattle, relying on old standbys like soups and stews, homemade bread, and roasted vegetables. And because there is less colorful produce to experiment with this time of year, I turn to whole grains as a chance to reach and play in the kitchen. For this reason alone, sorghum is a winter cook’s best friend.

Perhaps you’ve heard of sorghum syrup, the liquid sweetener popular in the South? Or if you’ve experimented with gluten-free baking at home, you’re likely acquainted with silky sorghum flour. But whole grain sorghum isn’t as widely known—although it really should be. Much like other hearty grains, such as farro or barley, it’s high in fiber and has a delightfully chewy texture, making it the perfect addition to pilafs, folded into salads, or added to soups and stews. Whole grain sorghum has a nice, mild flavor that works well in sweet and savory recipes.

I live for warm cereals and porridges in the cooler months, but oats shouldn’t get all the attention. Spiced Apple-Cranberry Sorghum Cereal with Maple Yogurt relies on sorghum and crisp Washington apples for an appealing way to wake up. I’m also sharing a simple Mixed Mushroom and Sorgum Soup that will complement a winter dinner—or serve as main course. Playing around with new ingredients will keep us all in the culinary game this winter. I nominate sorghum to lead the way.

A note on cooking sorghum: Sorghum is a slower-cooking grain. It can take up to an hour to cook, so I’ll often prepare a pot in advance to have on hand for easy throw-together lunches or dinners. It should be toothsome but not crunchy. I often have leftover cooking liquid in my pot, which you simple drain away once the sorghum reaches the desired consistency. Whole grain sorghum can be found at Central Market, Fred Meyer, and is widely available online.

 

 

Spiced Apple-Cranberry Sorghum Cereal with Maple Yogurt

 

This simple, delicious warm cereal can be made ahead and reheated for hectic weekday mornings when grabbing a granola bar and racing out the door just won’t do. It consists of sorghum that’s cooked down with a little apple cider, for a touch of sweetness. I prefer not to spice the cereal itself, but rather let the flavor come from the cinnamony apples and maple yogurt, both easily prepared in just minutes. Topped with crunchy toasted walnuts, this is a recipe I reach for over and over as an alternative to oatmeal in the winter months. Sorghum tends to be what I call a “thirsty grain”—once cooked it can dry out more easily than other grains, so the maple yogurt sauce really helps to tie the dish together.

serves: 4  | start to finish: 1 hour

 

sorghum longFor the Cereal:

2 cups water
1 cup apple cider
1 cup sorghum
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

For the Spiced Apple-Cranberries:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 firm apples, cored and chopped into one-inch cubes
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted walnuts

 

For the Maple Yogurt:

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Combine the water, apple cider, sorghum, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer until tender, about 55-60 minutes. Drain away any excess liquid. Cover and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the butter and fold in the apple chunks. Sauté until apples soften and become slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add pinch of cinnamon, fold in the dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, stir the yogurt and maple syrup together.

To serve: scoop a generous portion of sorghum into each bowl and top with spiced apple-cranberry mixture and a dollop of maple yogurt. Serve warm.

gluten-free • vegetarian

 

Hearty Mixed Mushroom and Sorghum Soup with Kale or Sausage

 

A simple mushroom soup recipe is a must when cool weather strikes, and this one relies on mix of your favorite mushrooms (I like a blend of cremini, shitake and porcinis). I’m particularly fond of this recipe because it’s makes a smaller pot than many soup recipes, so it’s perfect for a couple to enjoy for a few days, or a small family to have for dinner. I cook the mushrooms and onions separately because their individual cook time never matches up perfectly, and cooking the sorghum on its own makes this soup a breeze to pull together. And in the spirit of experimentation, feel free to play with this recipe. You could fold in 2 cups of hearty greens, 1 cup cooked beans, or a few cooked and sliced sausages to make this soup a full meal.

serves: 4-6  | start to finish: 1 hour

1 cup sorghum
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound mixed mushrooms of your choosing, sliced into 1/4-inch bite-size pieces
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sour cream, to serve
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, to serve

 

Prepare sorghum: Combine the water, sorghum, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer until tender, about 55-60 minutes. Drain away any excess liquid. Cover and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms and cook until they’re soft and releasing their liquid, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, warm the remaining oil and add the onions. Over medium heat, cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and fold in the cooked sorghum and mushrooms. Stir well. Add the vegetable broth. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes, to warm through and allow flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve in soup bowls, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of parsley.

 

gluten-free • vegetarian

 

Megan Gordon is a writer, recipe developer, and author of Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons. She regularly for The Kitchn, and on her blog A Sweet Spoonful. When not writing about food, Megan teaches cooking classes and manages her local granola company, Marge, which is distributed nationally.

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