On Conferences and Sponsors: Curried Sorghum Salad

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

-Hell yes, sorghum and curry and butternut and yes.-

So it's not often that a food blogger must prepare a recipe that will be served to 350 other food bloggers. It's more pressure than the crushing weight of the ocean on an exploratory diving capsule at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, but without the joy of exploration and only the fear of being annihilated under a trillion tons of organ squelching darkness. Then again, if you wave a bunch of grain in the peripheral of my vision it certainly distracts me easy enough to forget said squelching. I have a feeling that's what the people at Bob's Red Mill had planned when they sent me a package filled to the brim with teff, sorghum, and other goodies you probably read about in a history book or the Bible.

Anyways, so yes, BRM. They called me somewhere back in early Spring after I had approached them back in late Winter. I was at a food blogger conference and, like many food blogger conferences, there were sponsors.

Many of the sponsors were like eager, wide-eyed kids on the first day of school before learning about the cruelties in life like eating too much paste or discovering what bullies are. Most of them simply do not know how to reach out to bloggers and just hope that if they throw enough free food at the masses someone will praise them online. It's very similar to how I imagine Republicans think food stamps work, and who are then puzzled when they don't get votes for passing incremental increases to government cheese rations.

-To make you not think of Republicans, or Democrats, or politics in general I present to you salty, cumin-y chickpeas.-

Similarly, bloggers rarely know how to approach sponsors; perceived food giants who are in fact just as nervous about being judged for their product as bloggers are about their blogs.

The secret, in fact, is rather easy. Just go up and bloody talk to them. If you like a product go up and say so, introduce yourself, introduce your blog and what it's about, have tea, invite them to your nephew's bris and once there chat about what they do and what you do and how you might do it together. Honestly, a meaningful conversation about passions filled with eye contact and genial enthusiasm will get you somewhere.

So at said food blogger conference I saw BRM. I adore BRM products so it was an obvious beeline. Their almond and hazelnut meals are staples in my pantry as they always make any mundane baking project quirky. At their table I chatted up a lovely woman named Cassidy and after a bit of conversation I simply explained how I loved their product and if they were ever looking for bloggers to work with, have represent them, go graffiti a train one night, or whatever that I was interested and that the cops totally wouldn't expect a prim white gay thirty year old wearing a herringbone jacket.

A few months later they called me up and proposed the terrifying ordeal. They had a product line called Grains of Discovery coming out. I asked what they meant by Grains of Discovery and Cassidy went on about a line of grains that many people might be familiar with in various gluten-free flour form, but had likely not encountered whole and raw. These included grains like farro, teff, chia, amaranth, and kamut.

They asked me if I would represent them and California Olive Ranch olive oils (another product I actually already kept in my pantry, so yay). They would send me out to International Food Blogger Convention in Seattle and during the sponsor dinner I would present a recipe of my creation using both grains and olive oils to bloggers. At the table I would also educate people about the product line and how to use the grains.

I, obviously, agreed. I hadn't been to an IFBC before, I loved the products, and why not?

I decided right off that bat to use sorghum. It had been served numerous times during a recent vaunt through China and I had fallen in love with this high-protein grain that tasted much like a wheat berry, but that didn't have that gut wrenching poison that those Celiac people are always going on about and that I love more than Michael Lucas's early career. (Note: don't Google that at work.)

Testing went rather easily to be honest. It was one of rare epiphanies where every neuron in your head fires off rapidly like a Texan on New Years. Sorghum possesses a nutty and old-world flavor that's rich and sweet - the pound cake of grains. I would pair it with equally rich and buttery butternut squash. To cut through all the sugar? Red curry paste, lime, and cilantro. From the olive oil side of it I incorporated Miller's Blend olive oil because it was spicy as cayenne and made me weep a bit with its naturally fiery flavor.

-Grain pimps.-

The squash was tossed with red curry paste and the olive oil, and roasted until soft and deeply caramelized. To add texture I tossed some chickpeas with cayenne, cumin, and olive oil and then roasted them until they were crispy and as addictive as bacon-flavored heroin.

On the foretold day it was time to place the recipe out to be judged by 300+ food bloggers.

Now given, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. Opinions, unlike assholes, should be regularly looked and and thoroughly examined. I was eager to hear what people had to say.

Overall? Renowned approval. A few comments on the desire for more salt, but I can deal with that as salt is subjective. (But, then again, what the hell do they know, amiright?) A few people even posted online that in a room of fresh oysters, hot caramel spiked with tequila, and seared scallops my dish beat them out.

Take that world! Approval from my peers! Yayness! *fist pump*

Anywhose, the recipe below is pretty astounding. I encourage you to try it. Really. And I'm not shilling for the sake of stuff or anything. The grains and oil are excellent and I do purchase them myself. Give 'em a try.


Garrett out.

Sorghum Salad with Curry-Roasted Winter Squash and Crispy Chickpeas

Curried and roasted winter squash, crispy chickpeas, fresh cilantro, and furious lashings of lime juice all contribute to the nutty flavor and toothsome texture of Bob’s Red Mill whole grain sorghum. California Olive Ranch’s, Miller’s Blend olive oil has a throaty, peppery spice that allows it to not only stand up to the strong flavors, but also blend them elegantly. 

Serve 4 

2 ½ Tbs + 3 Tbs, Miller’s Blend extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping Tbs red curry paste
16 ounces peeled, seeded, and cubed winter squash (butternut or kuri, cut into 1- inch cubes)
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill whole grain sorghum
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
3 scallions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe of roasted chickpeas (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together the 2 ½ Tbs olive oil and all the red curry paste in a bowl. Add the cubed winter squash and toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.

2. While squash is roasting, prepare the sorghum. Place 1 cup of sorghum and 3 cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50-60 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

3. Toss sorghum, squash, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. This can be served hot, chilled, or room temperature. Garnish with the roasted chickpeas and serve immediately.

Roasted Chickpeas 
Amazing on a sorghum salad, these are also a delightful snack on their own. 

1 can of chickpeas; drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1 Tbs Miller’s Blend extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt 

Toss together in a bowl and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake at 400F for 35-40 minutes or until crisp.


  1. As one who grew up on these once relatively obscure (in the US) grains, I've got all but the sorghum and amaranth in my cupboard on a regular basis. (Faro tabbouleh = deliciously chewy!) In the meantime, those chickpeas sound divine, but EVOO and I don't generally get along (think throat closing down). Do they have a non-EVOO varietal of the Miller's blend or would I be committing treason for subbing in any good quality olive oil?

    1. Nope, Olive Ranch works with olives. A fine coconut or other high heat oil should be fine.

  2. --why the hell hasn't anyone else commented? This is a fantastic post! With the popularity of these obscure grains I am sure more will find this intriguing. Thanks Garrett- long-time lurker- Lora

  3. https://www.facebook.com/StephanieSellsMQT?ref=hl I loved what you wrote so much i turned you into my quote of the day. Tried to tag you on Facebook but you tag blocked me LOL Stephanie

    1. The hell is tag blocking? O.o
      Anywhose, glad you liked the post, Steph.

  4. Look forward to Tuesday and reading what is going on in your part of the world. Always entertaining, informative and a fun read.

    Oh don't you love when you agree to something without thinking it thru and then relieved when it works out.

    And, umm, so glad you have the recipe for a normal serving amount (4) and not 350. :)

  5. I credit Bob's Red Mill for making things easier for my gluten free daughter. She was so ill for so long, and their gluten free products helped her on a road to recovery.

  6. Love this post! I did not get the chance to go to IFBC this year, but next year for sure, already bought the ticket! I also use BRM products like everyday! And I'm lucky enough to live 30 minutes from them.... your recipe is going into my bookmarks now! Thanks! Cheers, Tiffany @thyme of taste

  7. Um, er, not that I know these things but did you mean Michael Lucas' early career? If so then I did indeed meet a new friend and kindred spirit at IFBC. If not, then, well, never mind. P.S. Loved the salad. It was just the perfect thing for BRM to be serving that night. Seriously.

  8. Loved the salad at IFBC, and love the story now.

  9. That looks like it would be a perfect Thanksgiving side dish!

    What are those little serving bowls made of?

  10. Witty, charming and a totally fun read Garrett! Great recipe too (I was one of the one's who welcomed something non-protein at the tasting!)

  11. I am one of those for whom this flavorful and textural dish was a favorite at IFBC. I have a Sugar Pie Pumpkin waiting on my counter and I am a big fan of the lowly chickpea. Since bringing it home from IACP, I am a new-found fan of sorghum. Do you have a favorite red curry paste? Can't wait to give this a try! (Though I do have a stack of placeholders in MELT waiting to try, as well. ;)

    1. I buy Thai Kitchen brand because it's just easy to find and adapt. =)
      And thank you! =D

  12. You're so dang adorable. On the real.

    I laughed out loud when you said firing like Texans on New Years. How did you know we did that? (I'm seriously anti-gun but am Texan--don't tell anyone!)

    What a tasteful collaboration between good products and a great blogger. Are you just good at everything in life, or what?


  13. I have all but the sorghum here, so I think I might try this for lunch with Israeli couscous instead. I'm sure the flavors will translate, they sound so good!

  14. Funny enough, I was doing some pantry cleaning last night and found some Bob's Red Mill cornmeal that I plan on turning into a lemon-olive oil cake this week.

  15. Looks delish! I will definitely be trying this - which is a big step for me since I am a Rice Girl and only started eating quinoa, millet and bulgur in the last few years. Thanks Garrett!

  16. I loved this salad that you presented at the IFBC.

  17. I'm late, love this post and can't wait to try this. I've done a bunch of different grain dishes but have never thought of adding curry. Brilliant!

  18. Love this recipe! Have made it multiple times and often serve it for guests. It is always a big hit. Thanks for coming up with such a great recipe!


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