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This grain salad is hearty and versatile! Make it with any whole grain, colorful vegetables and a tangy vinaigrette.

Grain Salad
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Looking for a versatile recipe that’s great as a filling side dish, lunch, or pitch in food? Welcome to our favorite Anytime Grain Salad! This basic idea works with any whole grain and in any season. Mix up the vegetables based on what you have on hand, and you can make loads of variations. The best part? It’s so hearty and filling, great as a side dish for a vegetarian meal or perfect for lunches. Here’s how to use this template for a great grain salad!

What’s in a grain salad?

A grain salad is any salad made with a whole grain, vegetables, and a dressing. Any type of whole grain or seed can be used, like quinoa, farro, bulgur wheat, millet, rice, wild rice, freekah, or barley.

Mix the whole grain with any mix of vegetables and a simple dressing, and you’ve got a grain salad! Adding a protein rounds out the salad and helps to make it filling. Use it as a side dish, lunch, for potlucks, picnics and more.

Farro

Elements in this grain salad

This grain salad uses the farro, an ancient whole grain with a chewy texture and nutty flavor. But you can use any grain you like! It combines it with a colorful mix of vegetables, herbs, and a Mediterranean-style dressing. Here’s what you’ll need, then keep reading for some notes on swapping out ingredients and flavors to customize to your tastes:

  • Farro or any cooked grain, like quinoa, rice, wild rice, millet, bulgur wheat, or barley
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Carrot
  • Fresh herbs
  • Baby arugula
  • Cheese (like Manchego, smoked gouda, aged cheddar, feta crumbles, or shaved Parmesan)
  • For the dressing: lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil and dried oregano
Grain Salad

Ways to customize it!

You can substitute in different vegetables of your choosing in this grain salad! Swap out ingredients and it works for different seasons. Here are some ideas:

  • Use apples instead of cherry tomatoes and omit the garlic for a fall or winter salad
  • Use bell pepper instead of tomato
  • Add zucchini or summer squash in the cummer
  • Add crunchy cucumber
  • Add roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash for a wintery spin
  • Omit the mushrooms if desired
  • Add nuts like toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts

What other ideas do you have for customizing this salad? Let us know in the comments below!

More variations

Here are a few more variation on a grain salad that we love:

  • Quinoa salad: Try our Go-To Quinoa Salad! This grain salad is summery and even more Mediterranean-inspired. It features crunchy veggies like cucumber, bell pepper and cherry tomato, along with Tuscan kale and feta crumbles.
  • Barley salad: This Barley Salad with Lemon is also Mediterranean-inspired: it’s quick and easy to put together and irresistibly good.

A few other ideas for flavor combinations? Try our Greek Orzo Salad or Couscous Salad. They’re not made with whole grains, but the concept is similar.

Quinoa Salad
Another grain salad: with quinoa!

More salad recipes

We love salads! Here are few more great salad recipes we know you’ll love:

This grain salad recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based and dairy-free, omit the cheese.

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Grain Salad

Easy Grain Salad


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

This grain salad is hearty and versatile! Make it with any whole grain, colorful vegetables and a tangy vinaigrette.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup dry farro (pearled or semi pearled, or 2 ½ cups cooked grain, like quinoa, rice, wild rice, millet, bulgur wheat, or barley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 4 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (like fresh chives, mint or basil)
  • 2 cups baby arugula (or other baby greens)
  • ½ cup cheese, sliced into chunks (like Manchego, smoked gouda, aged cheddar, feta crumbles, or shaved Parmesan*)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cook the farro: Rinse the farro under cold water in a fine mesh strainer. In a large saucepan, place the farro, 3 cups water and ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the grains are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for pearled farro and 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled farro. Taste test a grain to see if it is tender (if the package is unmarked, just cook until tender). Drain any excess water. Stir in the additional ¼ teaspoon salt. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer for 3 minutes until room temperature. (This step can be completed up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate the farro until making the salad.)
  2. Prep the veggies: Meanwhile, chop the shallot, garlic, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, carrot, and fresh herbs as noted in the ingredient list above. Place the veggies in a large bowl, then add the baby arugula, cheese, and farro.
  3. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time, until creamy.
  4. Serve: Add the dressing to the bowl with farro and vegetables and toss. Taste and add another pinch or two of salt if desired. (Stores up to 4 days refrigerated; you may need to add a pinch or two more salt after refrigeration since it can dull the flavors.)

Notes

*Omit for vegan, or substitute vegan cheese.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Salad
  • Cuisine: Vegetables
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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3 Comments

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!






    1. Christine says:

      Hi, can you use a normal salad dressing like balsamic vinegrette the or olive oil and balsamic to the salad? I forgot to get a lemon!

      1. Alex Overhiser says:

        Yes, that would work!