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
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
Red quinoa and green arugula are an eye-pleasing, flavorful combination. If you can’t find block feta, then look for crumbles.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Succotash is made by cooking corn and beans, so why not add some quinoa while you’re at it?
Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad
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
This one is a festival of summer produce. Farro adds a chewy heft and nutty flavor.
Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese
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
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.