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!
I'm a sucker for a big kale salad loaded up with delicious toppings...some of my faves include this Kale Caesar Salad with Garlic Chickpeas and this Loaded Mexican Kale Salad. But the one I come back to time and time again is this Kale Barley Salad!
Loaded up with chickpeas, feta cheese and avocado, there is so much flavor, and plenty of protein to fill you up!
Not only does this salad make for a delicious dinner, but with a few tricks, you can make it into a mason jar salad, keeping it fresh for up to 4 days. This means it can be an awesome meal prep lunch option!
Reasons you’ll ♡ kale 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
Watch the video below to see exactly how I prepped this salad. It’s so easy! You can find more of my recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
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Let's talk ingredients!
- 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:
Tips for the perfect salad
- massage your kale- kale can have a tough texture and bitter flavor, but giving it a quick 2-3 minute massage can really help eliminate these two issues
- meal prep- you can meal prep this salad in a few different ways
- cook barley, wash + shred kale and prep the vinaigrette up to 4 days ahead to make assembly super quick
- layer in jar salads to keep kale + vinaigrette separate- keeps fresh for up to 4 days
- avocado- if you do make this into a jar salad, add the avocado fresh to prevent it from browning
- leftovers- do not keep very well once tossed in the vinaigrette. I would plan to serve this fresh.
More salad recipes
- Chopped Chickpea Salad
- Summer Couscous Salad
- Black Bean + Corn Salad
- Chickpea, Barley and Butternut Squash Jar Salads
- Wild Rice + Sweet Potato Salad
This post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with fresh photos and tips and a new video in 2019.
Kale Barley Salad with Feta and a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette
- ½ cup pearl barley (uncooked; just over 1 cup cooked)
- 4 cups kale (loosely packed, stems removed, and cut into small ribbons)
- ⅓ 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
- ½ 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.