25 Super Satisfying Grain Salad Recipes
We value textural intrigue in our meals, and there’s no better place to experiment with a balance of crunchy, juicy, tender, and toothy elements like a grain salad. Since these grain salad recipes contain a variety of ingredients, they also satisfy an array of nutritional needs. Whether you’re looking to step up your side dish game or just make salad feel more fun/filling, these grain salad recipes are here to prove that healthy isn't synonymous with boring.
Toasted Farro Salad with Watermelon and Peaches
Toasting the farro before boiling it brings out an added layer of rich nuttiness to this hearty grain salad. Complemented by fresh herbs and sweet, juicy peaches and watermelon, this summertime side dish is the ultimate refreshing and nutritious bite you need. Serve it immediately, or let the flavors meld in the refrigerator for a couple hours (or overnight) and enjoy it cold.
Superfood Grain Bowl
This grain bowl satisfies all the needs meal prep addresses: It tastes great, it’s actually good for you, and best of all, it’s easy to transport to a fridge at work, school, or wherever else you might end up. We’ve balanced superfoods like quinoa and avocado with staples you likely already have for a low-maintenance, high-reward meal.
Job's Tears Salad with Bacon Dressing
Job’s tears are a gluten-free whole grain, distinctly large, with a mild corn-rice flavor that’s versatile enough to use in countless dishes. Find it at health food stores and Asian markets. While the salad stands before serving, the warm vinaigrette will slightly tenderize the thinly shaved vegetables. If you use a mandoline to slice the beets, deal them into the salad like playing cards so they don’t clump together in stacks. Red beets are fine in this dish as well, though they will color the grains pink.
Wild Rice Salad with Dried Cherries and Parsley
This grain salad tastes equally delicious when served warm or at room temperature. If serving at room temperature, let rice cool completely before adding the parsley and cherries.
Rosy Beet-and-Quinoa Salad
This earthy whole-grain salad holds up well, so it's a good make-ahead option; just bring it to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
Watermelon Grain Bowl
Primary Ingredients - watermelon, wheat berries, cucumber, ricotta salata, and radish sprouts
Salmon and Grains Salad with Pistachio Salsa Verde
Kris Tominaga serves this dramatic salad at Cadet restaurant in Santa Monica. Wild rice and black quinoa (the quinoa fried until crunchy) form a backdrop for colorful greens and salmon. In winter, frozen sockeye salmon is an excellent choice.
Wine Pairing: A dry, crisp rosé made out of Pinot Noir, like Calera 2015 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir (Central Coast; available in March). The tart, silky red fruit is a great foil for salmon, and the wine's minerally herbal quality plays off the salsa verde. --Sara Schneider
Lemon, Wheat Berry, and Chickpea Salad
Farro Burrito Bowls
Enjoy these make-ahead grain bowls for lunch or as a no-cook dinner on hot days.
Smoked Barley, Beet, and Grapefruit Salad
This CL-perfected stovetop technique makes smoking food easier than ever (though the salad is still tasty if you choose not to smoke the grains), and smoke is such a fun flavor to apply to unexpected ingredients like barley. A sweet vinaigrette, earthy beets, and the intense citrus twang of grapefruit balance the robust smoky hit of the grains for a memorable salad. To make sure you're getting the whole-grain version of barley, look for hulled, and skip past pearled.
Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Farro
Whole-grain farro bulks up this hearty Mediterranean salad. If you like the crunch of fresh red onion but not the full pungency, give the slices a 30-second dip in ice water to tame the flavor; drain and toss in the salad.
Tuna Niçoise Whole-Grain Bowls
We combined the classic Niçoise combo of haricots verts, potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, tuna, and olives with whole-grain rye berries, which have a nutty, faintly peppery-tangy flavor. If you can’t find them, use farro or wheat berries.
Chicken and Bulgur Salad With Peaches
A quick-cooking whole grain, bulgur is perfect for time-crunched weeknight cooking. If you can’t find it on the grains aisle, you can substitute quinoa or whole-wheat couscous.
Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with 6-Minute Egg
Embrace breakfast’s savory side with this whole-grain bowl. This simple one-dish meal is crowned with a soft-boiled egg; the nutrient-rich yolk creates its own creamy sauce. New research shows that eating eggs with raw vegetables like tomatoes increases your absorption of carotenoids—antioxidants that may protect against heart disease.
Spring Vegetable and Quinoa Salad with Bacon
This rich and dynamic quinoa salad could easily be pulled together with whatever leftover grain you have on hand, such as farro or bulgur. A trio of fresh herbs deliver a major dose of freshness while balancing out more robust flavor components, such as whole-grain Dijon mustard and toasted almonds. To make this dish vegetarian, prepare the quinoa using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and eliminate the bacon.
Spring Vegetable Grain Bowl
This dish is all about clean flavors and distinct textures. Farro provides satisfying chew, while the raw shaved veggies soften slightly in the vinaigrette to become perfectly crisp-tender. To blanch the peas, cook in boiling water for 1 minute or until crisp-tender, then dunk in an ice bath for 1 minute to stop the cooking. A mandoline or vegetable peeler makes quick work of thinly slicing vegetables.
Farro Salad With Cherries, Corn, and Basil
Meal preppers, meet your new favorite salad. It’s bright and juicy thanks to the cherries, while the farro base keeps things feeling nice and hearty. The almonds bring in a crunch and nuttiness that helps bring everything together. Since it’s super versatile, you could make a batch on Sunday and serve it with arugula and baked chicken for a healthy lunch all week long.
Greek Farro and Chickpea Salad
This greek-inspired salad works as a great make-ahead lunch that is not shy on flavor. The hearty farro grain gives the salad great texture, while the crumbled feta adds a delicious tangy flavor with each bite. For Sunday prep, omit the arugula and make enough farro mixture for the week. Stir in the greens just before you head out the door.
Bánh Mì Rice Salad
This whole-grain salad riffs off the ingredients and flavors of the addictive Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich. We like it as a composed salad, but you can also stir everything together.
Lemon-Garlic Pork and Broccoli Bulgur Bowl
Bulgur is a great go-to grain because of its quick cook time and neutral flavor.
Millet and Tomatoes
Give another grain a try. One of the most common staple grains in other parts of the world, millet (available from Bob's Red Mill) is a naturally gluten-free whole grain. Its nutty corn flavor pairs well with tart cherry tomatoes, thyme, and Parmesan in this easy side. Cooking the millet in a little butter until it's fragrant and golden is worth the extra couple minutes to bring out the toasty grain flavor. Serve with seared scallops or top with a poached egg and round out your plate with a baby kale salad.
Broccoli Rabe and Barley Grain Bowl With Cilantro Pesto
Broccoli rabe (also called rapini) is a leafy cousin to broccoli known for its bracing bitterness. A quick blanch followed by pan-searing tames its bite and renders the greens meltingly tender. Want to make this dish fully vegan? Just leave off the parmesan cheese—or sub in a touch of nutritional yeast.
Whole-Grain Veggie Burrito Bowl
This is a Tex-Mex riff on the Korean rice dish bibimbap, in which various toppings are arranged over a bed of rice. Here, burrito bowl must-haves such as smoky black beans, fresh pico de gallo, and slaw top brown rice.
Diets higher in whole grains have been linked to lower levels of inflammation and cognitive decline; whole grains are a staple in the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. This salad combines brain-boosting farro, chickpeas, and olive oil with the bright crunch of fresh celery. Simple, quick, and delicious.
Pesto Chickpea Salad with Summer Squash
Stop searching, because we’ve got the best 15-minute summer side dish right here. The fresh aroma of basil, the nutty flavors from raw squash and pungent red onion all combine for a taste that perfectly reflects the season. The chickpeas offer a little more substance, making it hearty enough to leave you satisfied, which the light, lemony dressing and Parmesan make your taste buds happy. Bonus points if you can pick your own basil and squash from your garden.