Easy Lunch Idea: Lemon Dijon Kale and Barley Salad

I always make myself grain and veggie-based salads for lunch. They are filling, delicious, and so versatile. They also guarantee a complete meal with the components of :

  • whole grains (barley, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta…)
  • protein (beans, tofu/tempeh, tuna/salmon, chicken, etc.)
  • fat (olive oil-based dressings, nuts/seeds)
  • veggies (spinach, carrots, mushrooms, whatever you have on hand….)

With the switching up of different grains, protein options, vegetables and dressings, the options are really endless when it comes to this easy meal concept.

To make these, I usually just tend to throw whatever ingredients I have on hand(veggies, protein source, grain, etc.) in a Tupperware container, pack some dressing on the side, and call it a day. While this is easy, effortless, and always results in a filling, healthy meal, I thought I could streamline the process even more by making and pre-portioning a big batch of a grain salad over the weekend to grab and go as  an easy meal option during the week.

I did just that this weekend by making a big batch of a barley and kale salad. This particular combination ended up tasting so delicious that I thought I’d share (in case anyone is looking to switch up their lunch routine or try out a grain-based salad for lunch). I especially liked how the  massaged kale and broccoli soaked up the lemon dijon dressing, and how the addition of the sunflower seed kernels  gave the salad additional crunch and texture. Overall, this was a very  enjoyable combination.

If you are looking for a simple, healthy, filling lunch idea, try this out!

Lemon Dijon Kale and Barley Salad

makes 2 lunch-sized servings

Ingredients:

  • barley (1 cup dry)
  • kale (approx 1/2 of a large bunch or 2 cups when torn into pieces)
  • carrots (1/2 cup, chopped)
  • broccoli (1/2 cup, chopped)
  • celery (2 stalks, chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • chickpeas (1 cup, rinsed and drained)
  • sunflower seed kernels (2-3 tbsp – optional)

Dressing:

  • olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • lemon juice (4 tbsp or about the juice of 1 lemon)
  • dijon mustard (4 tsp)
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  •  bring 1 cup barley and 3 cups water to a boil, turn heat to medium and let barley simmer for 25-35 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally (will make about 2 cups once cooked)
  • while barley cooks, prep your veggies!
  • rinse and tear kale into bite sized pieces and place in large bowl
  • chop broccoli, carrots and celery  into bite sized pieces and place on top of kale
  • add chickpeas on top of veggie mixture

To make the dressing: in a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and dijon mustard, add pepper to taste (you might want to add more olive oil or lemon juice or dijon depending on taste preference)

  • massage about 1/2 of the dressing into the kale, veggie and bean mixture, using your hands (or a stirring utensil) to evenly distribute the mixture. (Massage/mix until kale begins to wilt down a little and turn a bright green color)
  • once barley is cooked and somewhat cool, add 1 cup (you will have about 1 cup leftover) of the cooked barley into the veggie mixture and add the remaining dressing . Mix until well-distributed
  • separate salad into Tupperware containers, add about a tbsp of sunflower seed kernels on top of each salad and refrigerate until you are ready to eat!

Options:

  1. replace barley with another grain of your choice (brown rice, quinoa…)
  2. substitute the veggies with whatever you have on hand (cauliflower, cucumber, tomato, etc. would all work well) – you could also use spinach or another type of green in place of the kale
  3. substitute the sunflower seed kernels with some chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans…) or other type of seed

The options and possibilities are really endless with this. Let me know if you try it out!