July 10, 2023

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad is a refreshing summer salad perfect for picnic lunches or light dinners on the deck. Make the most of summer berry season with this delicious vinaigrette and salad!

This Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad combines classic strawberry salad ingredients like spinach and almonds with a cooked grain - millet - for added heartiness. With a few tangy flavor bombs like goat cheese and pickled red onions added in, this salad is anything but boring! It’s really the two toppings that make this salad a show-stopper: the quick-candied almonds and strawberry-balsamic dressing put the flavors and textures over the top. 

Get the best, juiciest, sweetest strawberries you can find for this salad. There’s probably still a few at your local farmer’s market! The juicy, red berries make the most beautiful vinaigrette when paired with white balsamic. Plus the fresh, sliced strawberries in the salad are like bright little jewels that burst with sweetness in each bite. 

Don’t sleep on the quick-candied almonds, either! I’ve loved sweet-crunchy candied nuts on salads for years, but I’ve never found such a quick and easy method as this one. Plus, there’s no refined sugar here! Sweetened with maple syrup and vanilla extract, these almonds will be a go-to salad topper from now on. Keep an eye on them as you toast them, to be sure the almonds and syrup don’t burn. After you take them off the heat, they will crisp up as they cool. The quick-candied almonds will also make your house smell like divine baked goods!

Finally, don’t skip the freshly cracked black pepper at the end - did you know strawberries and black pepper are a classic flavor pairing? They’re secret BFFs, and you will definitely impress anyone you share this salad with showing them how the two go together. 

Ingredients assembled for Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad
Assemble your ingredients.

Making the quick-candied almonds in a skillet
The quick-candied almonds toast up in less than 10 minutes in a skillet. Keep a close eye on them so the syrup and nuts don't burn! As soon as the almonds develop some golden-brown color, transfer the nuts to a plate to cool completely. They will become crispy as they cool. (And they'll make lots of snap-crackle-pop noises while they do!)

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad arranged on a large white oval platter
I love assembling salads on a large platters so you can really see all the ingredients, instead of piling them up in a bowl.

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad served in a red stoneware bowl with a fork
I didn't get many process shots of this recipe, just a lot of glamor shots because it's so freakin' gorgeous!

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad in a red stoneware bowl
Please go make this salad while berries are in season!

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad

Strawberry-Balsamic Millet Salad is a refreshing summer salad perfect for picnic lunches or light dinners on the deck. Make the most of summer berry season with this delicious vinaigrette and salad!


Kira Freed - The Joyful Plateful











For the salad:

1/2 cup dry millet, prepared according to package directions

1 5-oz. box baby spinach

1 pound ripe strawberries (remainder of package, after those used for dressing), sliced

3 Persian cucumbers, sliced

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup pickled red onions

Fresh ground black pepper 

For quick-candied almond topping:

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sliced almonds

For the strawberry-balsamic dressing:

4-5 large, ripe strawberries, tops removed

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Start by preparing the millet. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cups water and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt to a boil. Add 1/2 cup dry millet, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until water is absorbed and millet is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. While the millet is cooking, make the quick-candied almond topping. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. When the coconut oil is melted, add the sliced almonds, and stir to coat in the syrup mixture. Toast over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly, until almonds are golden brown and liquid is absorbed (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool completely. The almonds will crisp up as they cool. 
  3. Next, make the dressing. In a high-speed blender, combine the fresh strawberries, white balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Blend until strawberries are pureed. Scrape down the sides. With the blender running on low speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Set the dressing aside while you prepare the rest of the salt. 
  4. Assemble the salad on a large platter or in a large serving bowl. Start with the baby spinach; then scatter the cooked, cooled millet evenly on top; arrange sliced strawberries and cucumbers; scatter the crumbled goat cheese evenly; scatter pickled red onions evenly; sprinkle with quick-candied almonds; finish with a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of strawberry-balsamic dressing, and serve additional dressing on the side. 
  5. Serve salad immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 hours before serving. 
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