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Christmas lunch in a bowl

This salad is a fresh, lighter take on the traditional baked turkey and vegetable Christmas lunch, without the hours of baking and heating up of the kitchen in the hot Australian summer.

  • L/D Lunch/Dinner
  • GF Gluten free
  • F Festive
  • Prep time 5 mins
  • Cook Time 60 mins
  • Serves 6
  • Difficulty medium


  1. Prepare marinade the day before: Mix the turkey marinade ingredients in a glass bowl and mix well. Add sliced turkey fillets, cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.
  2. The next day, preheat oven to 200⁰C. To reduce oven cooking time (especially in summer), first steam the sweet potatoes and carrots in a saucepan with the broccolini. Remove the broccolini after 7-8 minutes and put aside, and cook the orange vegetables for a further 5-7 minutes.
  3. Gently place the carrots and sweet potato in a baking dish lined with baking paper. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and gently move dish or baking paper to toss the vegetables without breaking them. Place in oven and bake 30-40 minutes, or until golden.
  4. To enhance the nutty flavour of the millet, first toast the grains in a large saucepan over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until they start to crackle, turn golden and become fragrant. Don't allow to burn. Add 2 cups of water to the saucepan, add salt and stir well. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat, add the butter and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes, until the grains absorb most of the water. Only stir if sticking to the bottom of pan, as stirring may break up the grains and change the texture. Remove from heat and allow to sit, with lid on, for about 10 minutes, to fully absorb the liquid.
  6. While the millet is cooking, chop the mint and place in a large bowl. Add pistachio nuts and ½ cup of cranberries.
  7. Add cooked millet to the mint mixture while still warm to allow the flavours to infuse. Use two forks to fluff the millet and combine the ingredients.
  8. To cook turkey, heat a skillet or frypan on medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil and pan-fry the pieces for about 2-3 minutes each side. The marinade will brown the meat nicely, but take care not burn it while ensuring it is cooked through.
  9. Place the millet mixture on a large platter or into a shallow bowl. Top with cooked vegetables, sprouts and avocado.
  10. To prepare the dressing, place all ingredients in a screw top jar and shake well prior to serving. Pour over the salad and toss gently to mix through. Sprinkle extra cranberries on top. Place slices of cooked turkey on top (the turkey can be cooked earlier, or just before serving for a warm salad option).

Tip: To minimise cooking on Christmas day, prepare the vegetables the night before. Cook millet on the day and then assemble the salad and pan-fry turkey just prior to serving. The millet can be made the night before to allow the mint flavour to infuse, but the texture is not as fluffy.

Nutritional information

By Jean Hailes naturopath and herbalist Sandra Villella

Turkey still features as the meat in this festive recipe, but as a turkey breast. Turkey breast is very lean, but its lack of fat can make the meat dry out if cooked over a long time. The small strips allow for quick cooking to minimise this, and the marinade also makes it tender and moist.

Turkey provides protein with simple flavours. However, as the millet and nuts make a complete protein when combined, this salad served meat-free is a complete meal as a vegetarian option.

Millet is an underused gluten-free grain, with a mild flavour that pairs well with other foods. It's a good source of dietary fibre, as well as B vitamins. The light fluffy grain is perfect for Christmas lunch, which most of us tend to over-cater. Baked sweet potato and carrot make it feel a bit like a Christmas roast, and the broccolini and sprouts provide the all-important greens.

Sprouts are the delicate 'angel atop the Christmas tree' in this recipe. They're packed with nutrients such as calcium, zinc and magnesium, so are a superior substitute for other green vegetables that may weigh the salad down.

Lime in the dressing adds a fresh zing, and in the marinade tenderises the turkey. I have included the pomegranate vinegar to add to the festive season, and as a way to enjoy some of the healthy polyphenol antioxidant found in pomegranates. Tossed in with garlic and some good-quality extra virgin olive oil, the dressing is simple and tasty.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas … a lot like an Australian Christmas.