This kale barley salad is full of whole grain, nutrient-rich ingredients that will nourish your body. Easy to prepare, vegetarian, and meal prep-friendly!
This post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with fresh photos and tips and a new video in 2019.
This is a healthy, vegetarian salad but you will never miss the meat because there is plenty of plant-based protein. Plus, it can be made ahead and is easy to pack into a lunch box. As a result, this healthy salad recipe makes the perfect meal prep power lunch.
Eating well doesn’t require sacrificing great flavour, and this lemon kale salad is proof of that! The combination of crunchy and creamy ingredients, plus its citrus flavour is why I keep coming back for more!
Reasons you’ll ♡ this kale and chickpea barley salad
- it’s a nutrient-rich, crunchy kale salad with fantastic citrus flavour
- easy to make ahead and it travels well – perfect for healthy lunches
- it’s a meatless meal, but still has a good helping of protein
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What’s in this healthy barley salad?
- Barley- Because of its nutritional benefits, this ancient grain is classified as a superfood! It is high in fibre, and is a good source of potassium, calcium, protein, folate, and B-vitamins. It is important to know that barley is not gluten free. If you need a gluten free substitute, consider whole grain brown or long grain wild rice.
- Healthy fats and protein- Avocado is a good source of healthy, Omega 3 fatty acids, while chickpeas and feta cheese both bring protein to this lemony kale salad..
- Kale- Another superfood, kale is crunchy and delicious. It’s a dark, leafy green, packed with antioxidants. It also contains fibre, iron, calcium, and vitamin K. (speaking of crunchy and delicious, you should make some baked kale chips to go with your salad. They make a delicious snack too!)
- Crunchy components- Sunflower seeds are salty, crunchy, and full of fibre. Red onion has crunch factor, as well as anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
- Citrus vinaigrette dressing- The salad is tossed in a tangy honey and lemon vinaigrette.
How do I make this recipe vegan-friendly?
It is simple to turn this vegetarian salad into one that is completely plant-based. There are just two ingredients that will either need to be left out or substituted; the feta cheese, and the honey.
Is there a vegan substitute for feta cheese?
Fortunately, there are a number of dairy-free cheeses available. A good amount of them are soy-based, and you can even make your own vegan feta cheese. If you want to avoid soy and simply want to replicate the salty flavour of feta, consider adding kalamata olives to this barley salad.
What can be substituted for honey?
Maple syrup is a wonderful vegan substitute for honey. It’s easy to swap because it measures cup for cup to honey. In other words, 1 cup of maple syrup = 1 cup of honey.
What should I serve with kale barley salad?
This salad has fantastic nutritional value, so it’s really delicious on its own. If you would like to serve it with a bit more protein, it pairs perfectly with these dinner options:
Meal prep tips
The majority of this barley kale salad recipe can be prepared in advance.
- Cook the barley up to 4 days ahead. After it is cooked, refrigerate it in a covered container.
- Rinse and shred the kale 5 to 7 days ahead. Store it in the refrigerator as well.
- Prepare the vinaigrette dressing and refrigerate in an airtight container for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Or, consider preparing mason jar salads for a quick and easy lunch on the go. Assembly instructions are in the barley salad recipe at the bottom of this post.
The only component you will want to wait on is slicing the avocado. The reason for this is, after an avocado is cut, the flesh of the fruit will oxidize (turn brown). Eating brown avocado is perfectly safe; it just isn’t pretty to look at.
Incidentally, if you want another use for kale, consider making a batch of Kale Pepita Sunflower Seed Pesto.
Tips & equipment for kale barley salad
- for this recipe, you might want to have a salad spinner (<– I love this one!), and a salad dressing shaker
- looking for more kale salads? Check out
- This simple but incredibly delicious and crunchy Kale Salad has fantastic flavour!
- Or, how about a tangy Kale Caesar Salad with an unforgettable creamy dressing?
- Maybe this Southwestern Chopped Kale Salad drizzled with honey and lime vinaigrette?
Kale Barley Salad with Feta and a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup pearl barley (uncooked; just over 1 cup cooked)
- 4 cups kale (loosely packed, stems removed, and cut into small ribbons)
- 1/3 cup feta (crumbled)
- 15 oz chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
- 1 avocado (cubed)
- 2-3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons red onion (finely diced)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Cook pearl barley according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
- Wash and chop kale. Give it a massage for 1-2 minutes to remove some of the bitterness.
- Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.
- Once barley is cool, toss with the kale, vinaigrette and remaining ingredients.
For a Meal Prep Lunch
- Divide the vinaigrette between four pint-sized jars.
- Add in the following order: chickpeas, barley, feta, onions, sunflower seeds, kale.
- Omit avocado or add fresh.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. To serve, shake everything out into a bowl and toss with vinaigrette.