I remember reading a Russ Parsons article in the LA Times years back about grain salads, where he sung the praise of them being both nutritious and versatile. They all have such a special flavor to them but can be a canvas for whatever other ingredients you want to throw in. I prefer a lot of greens in my grain salads (which actually makes them more of a green salad with grain, but bear with me), and millet can go along with just about anything. It’s quick cooking, gluten free, full of magnesium and has a mild effect on blood sugar.
This recipe may yield more pickled onion than you’d like to use in your salad, and I’ll leave that amount to your discretion. Pickled onions are not as ‘oniony’ as raw red onion, so don’t be shy. Any leftovers will keep in the brine, in the fridge, for about a week. They’re great for tacos or inside a packed veggie sandwich.
The millet and onions can be made in advance to save some time. Toss the millet in a bit of oil to keep it from drying out, and the onions in a covered glass jar or bowl in the fridge until ready to use.
In a non reactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, bay leaf and cloves together and bring to a gentle boil until the sugar is dissolved. Add the onions and remove the pan from the heat, stirring them a few times. Let them cool at room temperature, or transfer it all to a glass jar and put them in the fridge to speed the process along.
Put the millet in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes to toast the millet, you will begin to smell the toastyness and they’ll make a bit of a popping noise. Carefully, as it will splatter a bit, bring the pan away from the heat and add the broth or water. Bring it to a gentle simmer. Cover it and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit another 5 minutes before you open the lid. Fluff it around to break up the millet, add 1/2 tsp of the salt and set aside to cool completely.
Once the millet is cool, put it and the arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar on top and gently toss to coat.
Drain the desired amount of pickled onion and add them to the salad along with the pine nuts and goat cheese, give another toss and taste for seasonings.