I can remember being in elementary school and very very rarely buying school lunch. Usually, I brought my nut butter (sometimes peanut, sometimes almond, sometimes cashew) with preserves (sometimes apricot, sometimes strawberry, NEVER grape) on whole wheat bread, fruit, and graham crackers most days. There were, however, the occasional school lunch days when I just HAD to buy the hot lunch.
One was pizza day. The straight up rectangles of mediocre pizza paired with chocolate milk were a must-have. Another was French bread pizza day. A bit better than the squares of pizza, quite a bit crunchier, and always had more cheese than regular pizza day. The third was pizza burger day (are you sensing a pattern here?) I don’t know what it was about the pizza burger, but I just freaking loved the thing. It was a processed beef patty with pizza sauce and cheese on a bun. Not my finest culinary moment while devouring it above my brown plastic lunch tray, but there was just something about something “weird” on top of a burger that appealed to me.
For dinner tonight, I went a similar route. No, not pizza burgers. Something a bit healthier, and a bit more “South of the Border.” Chili burgers. And then I went one step farther: I made homemade whole wheat millet rolls. Hey, I’m on my one week of Summer vacation and I love baking bread. It seemed like an obvious choice.
Two recipes lay ahead for you: one for the vegetarian chili that topped my simple burgers (1 lb. ground beef, 1 egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder), and one for the rolls.
Whole Wheat Millet Rolls
* 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
* 2/3 c. millet
* 1 Tbsp. dry active yeast
* 1 c. warm water
* 2 1/2 c. room temperature water
* 2 tsp. salt
* 1 Tbsp. sugar
* 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Add the warm water and sugar to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to proof 10 minutes. Add in half the flour and stir well. Then, add the remaining water and flour, salt, oil, and millet and knead until smooth and still a bit sticky, about 15 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl and lightly oil the dough on all sides. Allow to rise until doubled, about an hour. Divide into 8 equal sections and form into round rolls. Place on a baking dish and allow to rise again, about 30 minutes. Brush with an egg and water wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if desired.) Bake at 400* until browned and hollow-sounding, about 25 minutes.
Vegetarian Bean Chili
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled
* 1 large red pepper, diced
* 1 small can green chiles
* 2 cans (15 oz) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
* 2 cans (15 oz) light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
* 2 large cans (32 oz) crushed tomatoes
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 3 dried arbol chiles, stems removed
* 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
* 3 Tbsp. chili powder
* S&P to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions, crush the garlic cloves into the oil, and add both the red peppers and the green chiles. Cook over medium-low heat until all are softened and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, cayenne and chili powder and stir well. Then, add the arbol chiles whole and stir well. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, about 40 minutes.
I loved having the veggie chili atop a beef burger…something about the irony always makes a meal taste better to me somehow. The rolls though… oh the rolls were good! Millet is a favorite grain of mine, and I’d only ever had it in breads until recently. I’m so glad there are more rolls to enjoy with other toppings… or heck, maybe just some nut butter and preserves, like the old days.