15 Fresh and Healthy Grain Salads to Make Ahead This Week|Recipes Spots

  • on August 27, 2023
15 Fresh and Healthy Grain Salads to Make Ahead This Week

Easy Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars - barley and vegetables with jars in background
Nick Evans

Late summer is the time to lean into grain salads for lunch and dinner. They’re a great way to use the summer produce overflowing at the farmer’s markets and can be made ahead of time, making busy weeks just a little easier. Prepare the salads on the weekend and eat for lunch or dinner all week long.

This is a great time to brush up on your quinoa and rice cooking skills. To save room on the stove, I usually use the Instant Pot. It’s important to cool the grains before combining in the salad. Try spreading them on a baking sheet to speed up the cooling process.

The recipes below use a variety of grains. You’ll want to stock up on long grain rice, either red or white quinoa, and pearl barley.

Curry Rice Salad

Curry Rice Salad
Simply Recipes / Annika Panikker

Turn brown rice into an inspiring, colorful salad with the addition of curry powder, apples, and raisins. Make it into a main course with the addition of poached chicken or canned chickpeas.

Quinoa, Arugula, and Feta Salad

Quinoa Arugula Feta Salad
Sheryl Julian

Red quinoa and green arugula are an eye-pleasing, flavorful combination. If you can’t find block feta, then look for crumbles.


Tan bowl with tabbouleh and a spoon.
Lori Rice

This Middle Eastern favorite might be the best-known of all salads. If you want to make it more authentic, double the herbs.

Basmati Rice Salad with Peas, Mint, and Lemon

Basmati rice salad with peas and mint.
Elise Bauer

Use your bumper crop of mint to make a refreshing rice salad and eat it as a light lunch or side salad for dinner. You could substitute basmati rice for jasmine or another long grain rice if needed.

Barley Lunch Jars

Three jars of barley lunch salad ready to mix with dressing
Nick Evans

Assemble these jar salads 4 to 5 days ahead for grab-and-go lunches. You can even eat them straight form the jar! Customize with feta, nuts, or tomatoes. Dress on the spot for the freshest experience.

Strawberry Arugula Quinoa Salad

Strawberry Quinoa Arugula Salad
Elise Bauer

Bring juicy strawberries, peppery arugula, and nutty quinoa together with an orange vinaigrette. This salad would make a great addition to a brunch menu or as a side for grilled chicken.

Wild Rice Salad

Wild rice salad with peas and dried cranberries.
Elise Bauer

This recipe uses both wild rice and basmati rice and makes 10 servings for salads all week long. The crunchy celery and sweetness from the dried cranberries keeps each bite interesting. You can substitute water for the chicken broth when cooking the rice for a vegan option.

Quinoa With Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, and Spinach

Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl - Bowl with sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa, and spinach
Alison Bickle

A grain bowl is basically a deconstructed salad that lets everyone add what they want and leave out what they don’t. If you’re in a hurry, you can serve the black beans unadorned, right from the can. Don’t skip the sauce though. The spicy sour cream sauce will bring it all together.

Chickpea and Barley Salad

Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad
Elise Bauer

Break out of your rut and combine barley with chickpeas, parsley, and the Moroccan spice ras el hanout. The salad needs to rest for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Southwest Quinoa Salad in a blue bowl.
Elise Bauer

This salad is crowd-pleaser and incredibly versatile. Serve it at room temperature or chilled, making it convenient for lunch or dinner. Canned black beans add heft without extra work.

Quinoa Succotash

quinoa succotash
Elise Bauer

Succotash is made by cooking corn and beans, so why not add some quinoa while you’re at it?

Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad

Cucumber Quinoa Salad
Elise Bauer

Both cucumbers and mint are abundant this time of year. Use your stash or head to a farmer’s market and pick up these summery ingredients. Persian cucumbers are ideal because of their thin skin and few seeds.

Farro Salad With Green Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes

Farro Salad with Corn, Green Beans, and Tomatoes
Sheryl Julian

This one is a festival of summer produce. Farro adds a chewy heft and nutty flavor.

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese
Elise Bauer

A creamy tomato and queso fresco sauce tops a bowl of quinoa for a comforting late summer salad. You can substitute the fresh green chiles with a can of diced green chiles if you prefer.

Quinoa Greek Salad

Quinoa Greek Salad
Elise Bauer

Greek salad is one of my favorite summer salads. The combination of tomatoes and cucumbers mixed with briny Kalamata olives and salty feta cheese, is refreshing on a hot day. Adding quinoa makes the salad a satisfying lunch or substantial side dish. 

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