One Pot Meals: Grain salad

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Grain salads are a great way to make an easy one-pot meal that is fresh and delicious, but also hearty and satisfying. There are endless combinations of ingredients to make it your own. It can be a great way to use leftovers. Grain salad is delicious warm or cold, so it is perfect to make ahead for lunches and picnics.

Barley and sweet potato salad


  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup frozen edamame
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dressing:
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
    • 1 minced clove garlic
    • 1 small shallot sliced or 1/3 cup red onion, sliced thin


  1. Cook barley per the package instructions, then drain and fluff with a fork to cool.
  2. Scrub sweet potato and pierce all over with a fork. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave until tender, about 5-7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop into bite size pieces.
  3. Microwave edamame per package instructions, then cool.
  4. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add all salad ingredients to dressing and toss well. Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator.

Create your own grain salad!

Start with:

  • 1 cup uncooked grains. Cook per package instructions.
  • 1 cup protein, cooked, then cut in bite size pieces, if needed
  • 2 cups chopped vegetables, cooked or raw

Add flavor and texture:

  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup fruit and/or nuts, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, or more to taste
  • Powdered spices, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Dress it up:

  • Make a dressing with 1-3 parts oil and 1 part acid, such as vinegar or citrus juice, or use a store-bought dressing.
  • Boost flavor with tahini, mustard, soy sauce, honey.

Check out the options below that can be added to your salad:

  • Grains
    • Barley, brown rice, bulgur, farro, kamut, millet, quinoa, rye berries, wheat berries
  • Protein
    • Beans (such as black, black-eyed peas, cannellini, chickpeas, edamame, pinto), chicken, goat cheese, hard boiled eggs, queso fresco, salmon, sardines, tofu, tuna
  • Vegetables
    • Avocado, bell peppers, beets, butternut squash, carrots, celery, collards, cucumbers, fennel, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, peas (green, snap or snow peas), sweet potatoes, zucchini
  • Fruits
    • Apple, berries, dried apricots or cranberries, grapes, oranges, olives, pears, raisins
  • Nuts
    • Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
  • Aromatics
    • Allspice, basil, chives, chile powder, cumin, curry powder, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, mint, parsley, red onion, scallions, shallot, thyme
  • Dressing ingredients
    • Oil (avocado oil, canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil), vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, rice vinegar, red wine), anchovy paste, feta, honey, lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, mustard, parmesan cheese, pesto, soy sauce, tahini

Ideas for grain salad combinations

  • Barley, lentils, kale, walnuts, apples, feta, red onions with olive oil, lemon juice and honey dressing.
  • Farro, chickpeas, celery, collards, sesame seeds, garlic and cumin with a lemon juice and tahini dressing.
  • Quinoa, canned or fresh salmon, corn, cherry tomatoes, almonds and fresh basil with an olive oil.
  • Brown rice, chicken or tofu, snow peas, celery, orange segments, peanuts, and scallions with a ginger, sesame oil and rice vinegar dressing.
  • Millet, black beans, queso fresco, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, with a cilantro, lime juice and olive oil dressing.

Additional resources

December 2022