Fresh oranges plus their juice and zest pep up this lively spinach and millet salad. Cherry tomatoes, red onion, and sprouts make it as festive to the eye as it is to the palate.
The first time I had a millet salad was at the home of a friend; not only did I love it, but I was impressed with the enthusiasm with which other guests ate it. Bland yet nourishing, millet doesn’t normally causes much excitement. It does, however, create a lovely blank canvas upon which a lovely salad like this one can built.
Toasting millet before cooking it helps bring out a nutty flavor and aroma, so I highly recommend taking this extra step. Millet does need a judicious hand with flavors and seasonings due to its blandness, but it’s super versatile and deserves a place in the plant-based kitchen.
A bit about millet
A highly digestible food that offers impressive amounts of calcium and protein, millet is an admittedly bland but nourishing ancient grain that’s favored in global cuisines around the world.
It compares favorably with other grains in terms of protein and minerals, and stands out in terms of calcium content. Learn lots more about millet and how to use it in our Guide to Millet. (And yes, it’s the grain that features prominently in birdseed mixes).
Grain swaps: You can make this salad with quinoa, couscous, or bulgur if millet isn’t your thing. You’ll need about 2 cups of cooked grain.
Optional add-ons: To take this salad up a notch, consider topping with one or two of the optional ingredients — briny olives, vegan feta, and sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Explore more baby spinach recipes.
- 3/4 cup raw millet
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing, bottled or homemade (see link to recipe in Notes), or as needed, divided
- 3 small seedless oranges (such as clementines), preferably organic
- 2 to 3 ounces baby spinach
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 heaping cup halved (or quartered, if larger) cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup green sprouts (like pea shoots or broccoli sprouts), chopped parsley, or microgreens
- 1/2 small red onion, cut into half moons
Optional additions (use one or two)
- 1/2 cup briny black olives
- 1/2 cup diced vegan feta
- 2 tablespoons toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Spray a deep skillet or stir-fry pan lightly with cooking oil spray (or coat with a little oil). Add the millet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the grain smells nutty, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the water and stir in the salt. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Stir in about half of the vinaigrette, and allow the millet to cool.
- Meanwhile, zest the two of the oranges. If you have a zester, that’s ideal; otherwise, a fine grater will work. If you have neither, you’ll have to skip this step! Peel and section them; set aside. Cut the third orange in half and juice it.
- Combine the cooled millet with the orange sections and spinach in a serving bowl. Drizzle in the remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, toss gently, and let the salad stand, covered, for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
- Just before serving, stir in the tomatoes and sprouts. Tuck the sliced onion here and there. Scatter any of the optional ingredients you may be using over the top of the salad, and serve.
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Photos at top: Bigstock