Millet is such an under-utilized, under-appreciated grain that is full of nutrients and is an extremely environmentally-friendly crop. It looks a little bit like couscous but is naturally gluten-free. In this millet salad recipe, I have mixed foxtail millet with carrots, herbs and mixed spice to make a warming autumnal salad with pistachios and dried apricots for added Moroccan flavours.
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Millet is a wonderful grain that not many people know about and even less use in their regular cooking! Think of it as a wheat-free version of couscous. It is a similar size and texture so I like to use it in similar ways. In this recipe I have used the millet for a tabbouleh-like salad. It is often used as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to rice as well.
The fantastic thing about millet is that it is naturally pest-resistant and drought-resistant so it requires far less water to produce than, say rice. It is also high in polyphenols, antioxidants and fibre (Healthline) and is naturally gluten-free. What more reason for us to try it out?
Humans have a long history of eating millet having been cultivating it for over 7000 years! Millet is often used nowadays for making porridge or as flour for making flat-breads such as roti in India.
- Environmentally-friendly - Unlike super-thirsty rice, millet can grow in dry and hot conditions so it is far more environmentally-friendly in its low water usage. It also has a relatively short growing period so is often found as the grain of choice in developing countries since it is relatively quick and cheap to grow.
- Nutrient-rich - Wholegrain millet is a fantastic nutrient-rich addition to a healthy diet. It is high in protein and fibre, low in carbohydrates and high in a number of vitamins and minerals, particularly copper, magnesium and zinc (nutrition value website). It compares similarly with other wholegrains but since it does not have a rough outer husk, it is more acceptable particularly to younger children who perhaps prefer the refined white rice and white bread for that reason. It's also great for coeliacs or those who are gluten intolerant since it is a naturally gluten-free grain.
Types of Millet
Often in the UK and Qatar (and I imagine elsewhere in the world), millet is just labelled as “Millet” and we think no more about the type of millet that it is. But I found out recently that there are actually numerous different types of millets! Here are all the different types generally available, separated into the categories of major millets and minor millets:
|Major Millets||Minor Millets|
|Pearl (most widely consumed and often the kind that is in the packs marked generically as "millet")|
Finger (also known as Ragi)
Having noticed that there were several different types available at the supermarket the other day and not knowing what the difference was between them, I decided to buy four of them and experiment! I bought Foxtail, Barnyard, Kodo and Little Millet. In the interest of science… I cooked all four (complete procrastination when I should have been doing my work!) all in the same way at the same time, in different pans, so that I could see and taste the difference. It was quite interesting!
For each different type of millet, I first soaked it for 10 minutes, then drained and rinsed it, added it to a saucepan with 2 parts water and a pinch of salt (just like I would cook rice), brought to the boil and simmered gently for 10 minutes.
I now know that Little Millet and, to a lesser extent, Barnyard Millet go to a porridge-like consistency very quickly, whereas Foxtail and Kodo Millet hold their shape and stay fluffy and light like a gluten-free version of couscous.
This is such a nutritious salad to give yourself a little boost of health.
- Millet is a nutrient-rich gluten-free wholegrain that is high in fibre, protein and antioxidants. As with most plant-based wholegrains, millet does contain anti-nutrients which can reduce your body’s absorption of those nutrients. Because of this, like rice and other grains, millet benefits from being soaked (overnight if possible) or you could even try sprouting your millet! (see the amazing Cultures for Health website for full details of how to sprout your millet).
- The walnut oil, pistachios and chia seeds add valuable omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids to this salad which are essential and need to be consciously included in the diet, especially since vegans are not eating oily fish!
- The parsley and dried apricots are excellent sources of iron, and the millet also adds iron to this salad.
- Phytochemicals galore from the millet, vegetables and fruits!
- Vitamin C from the lemon juice.
- Grain: Millet
- Vegetables & Herbs: Carrot, Spring Onion & Parsley (baby spinach or rocket - optional)
- Nuts and Seeds: Chia Seeds & Pistachios
- Fruits: Dried Apricots & Lemon
- Oils and Vinegars: Walnut Oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Apple Cider Vinegar, Pomegranate Molasses (or Balsamic Vinegar)
- Spices: Mixed Spice, Salt and Pepper
- Sweetener: Brown Rice Syrup (or other natural sweetener of choice!)
- Simmer the millet in salted water for 10 minutes (you could pre-soak it too if you like).
- Grate the carrot and chop the other vegetables, herbs and fruits. (you could toast the pistachios if you like to bring out their flavour more).
- Mix all the ingredients together and serve!
I like to cut the dried apricots into small cubes, about the size of the pistachios. Since there aren’t many in this salad, it is not an arduous job. I cut them once down the middle then turn it 90 degrees and chop it in three across the middle cut so that I get 6 small pieces. That way you won’t get the flavour overpowering any one mouthful of the salad.
This salad is perfectly good on its own or with perhaps a dollop of hummus for lunch at your desk or in a lunchbox since it provides a complete meal with protein, carbs, and fat to give you long-lasting energy for the afternoon ahead. Alternatively serve it as a full spread for lunch parties alongside roasted red peppers, a green salad, some crusty gluten-free bread, or some roasted vegetables like this roasted beetroot, or roasted cauliflower.
The other great thing about this millet salad recipe is that the salad is very portable! There is nothing in it that will go soggy or flop while waiting around so you can mix it up and then pack it in a Tupperware to take to work or to a potluck party and it will sit quite happily for a few hours waiting patiently for you to be ready for it!
- If you can’t find millet or don’t like it, this salad recipe would work equally well with quinoa instead!
- Like my other herby quinoa salad, this recipe is endlessly adaptable. Chop and change the herbs for what you like and, likewise, change the nuts and seeds to whichever ones you like best.
- The salad would also benefit from the addition of some baby spinach or rocket but that wouldn't hold up so well to travel so you'd need to add that at your desk if you're taking this to work. Alternatively, you could add some kale that's been well massaged with oil and that would be more portable since it doesn't go soggy and wet.
Making ahead & Storage
The flavours in this salad develop over time so it can happily be made in advance. Keep your millet salad covered in a container in the fridge until you are ready to use it. It will happily sit for 2-3 days in there.
Recipe Card 📖
Spiced Millet Salad with Pistachios and Dried Apricots
- ½ cup uncooked millet (or 2 cups/300g cooked millet)
- 1 carrot grated
- 2 spring onions (scallions) sliced
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ cup pistachios chopped
- 6 dried apricots chopped up small
- a big handful of parsley chopped
- 3 tbsp walnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ¼ tsp brown rice syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- a grind of black pepper
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- Soak the millet in water for 10 minutes (or up to 12 hours if you have time) then swish around and drain and rinse it in a strainer until the water runs clear. Add to a small pan with 1 cup of clean water and a pinch of salt, put the lid on, bring to the boil then slightly shift the lid off so that there is a little gap for steam to escape, and turn the heat right down to low. Leave the millet simmering for 10-15 minutes until cooked but still with a little bite. Once cooked, drain and rinse the millet and leave to cool. (If in a hurry, you could rinse in iced water and then drain).½ cup uncooked millet
- Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl (hold back some parsley for garnish), then in a small jug, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the top of the salad. Combine well. Serve with some more chopped parsley sprinkled on top for garnish.1 carrot, 2 spring onions (scallions), 1 tbsp chia seeds, ¼ cup pistachios, 6 dried apricots, a big handful of parsley, 3 tbsp walnut oil, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp pomegranate molasses, ½ tsp mixed spice, ¼ tsp brown rice syrup, ¼ tsp salt, a grind of black pepper, Juice of ¼ lemon
- The type of millet you use will affect the cooking time so follow the time given on the packet instructions and check a few minutes before to make sure that it doesn’t overcook. You don’t want soggy millet in this recipe!
- This salad would also be delicious with some baby spinach or rocket mixed in.
If you like this recipe, you may like my other delicious vegan and gluten-free salad recipes too:
I’d love to know how you get on with this Spiced Millet Salad recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a 5 star rating too! Thank you!