As I continue to experiment with recipes using millet, I have made variations of this simple salad incorporating a lemony vinaigrette as well as a much-loved poppy seed dressing.
A variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and nuts come together in the form of a healthy yet hearty all-in-one meal. Asparagus and snap peas were my veggies of choice this time, although you may vary according to season and preference. I stirred in some baby arugula, yet baby spinach or kale, or even a few chopped, fresh herbs would work well, too.
For added interest, I adore the flavor of feta cheese, and a handful of almonds provide added crunch. Because I enjoy a hint of natural sweetness and because strawberries pair with asparagus and snap peas, I added a few of those as well.
Feel free to use this recipe as a framework as you experiment with what may be a new grain in millet. Your favorite balsamic vinaigrette would work well here…avocados would be divine…let your imagination and your tastebuds guide you.
If you are partial to creamy dressings, click on this link for Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing with Greek Yogurt. It is light and flavorful and provides yet another delicious option for this salad, as well as the basic strawberry and spinach salad over which I often drizzle it! And for my basic introduction to millet, click here.
Yields approximately 6 servings, depending on appetite.
- 1 cup uncooked millet (could use couscous or quinoa)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek, sliced into half moons (light green part only; I use 2 when small)
- 1 bunch asparagus (about 8 ounces), tough ends broken off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups snap peas (could use 3/4 cup peas, frozen are fine)
- 1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, arugula, or kale, roughly chopped (could use 1/2-3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs of choice)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided use, and about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Optional garnishes, toasted slivered or sliced almonds, lemon zest
Whisk together the dressing ingredients (3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup or honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt), and set aside. Conversely, use the poppy seed recipe below or your favorite vinaigrette.
Rinse millet in a fine mesh strainer and drain well. Bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot and add the millet. Reduce heat to low, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the grains are fluffy but not mushy. (I recommend checking a few minutes early so as not to overcook. Don’t stir; just check to see it the water has been absorbed. If it has been, remove from heat. If not, replace lid and cook a few minutes more.) Once cooked, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Then remove lid, fluff again, and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a very large skillet–I like using a large cast iron skillet–sauté the leek in the 1 tablespoon olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the asparagus and sauté for another 5 minutes, depending on thickness, or until the asparagus is tender but still a bit crisp. Add the snap peas during the last two minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cooked millet, the greens, optional strawberries, feta and drizzle with all of the vinaigrette or about 1/3-1/2 cup of the poppy seed dressing. Toss to evenly distribute.
If desired garnish with a hearty sprinkling of almonds and a grating of fresh lemon zest.
- ½ cup (112ml) mild tasting olive oil or vegetable oil of choice
- ½ cup (96g) granulated sugar*
- ¼ cup (60ml) white vinegar (basic old distilled is my favorite here)
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced onion (I use red onion; a nice addition but may be omitted)
Mix all ingredients and store in a jar in the refrigerator.
Let stand at room temperature for a few minutes before using (the oil tends to separate and firm up when refrigerated), and shake well to emulsify. Alternatively, you could whisk instead of shaking.
Storage: the dressing will keep at least two weeks in the refrigerator, longer if you omit the onion, and will provide enough for several salads.
*I have tried this dressing with agave syrup instead of sugar. It is good, but I do prefer the regular sugar. A light coat of the dressing is all you need to capture the wonderful flavor. As mentioned, one batch of this dressing will allow you to enjoy many nights of salad in a flash.
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Have now made this salad 4 times, and tried both dressings. It has become one of our favorites, with the Poppy Seed winning out as the preferred dressing. Am currently making it for a July get-together and swapping out some tender green beans for the asparagus, and will likely replace the strawberries with either a blueberry or cranberry. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.
Thank you for the great comment, Kate. The poppy seed dressing is my favorite, too: ) I love your substitutions as a way to make this a year-round favorite. Enjoy your party!