This savory grain salad is made using three ancient grains, fresh vegetables, herbs, and is tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Whether you're looking for a nourishing plant-based side dish, packing lunches for school or work, or in search of the perfect picnic recipe, you're in the right place.
This dish is filled with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, nourishing ancient grains, olives and sun dried tomatoes. There is no shortage when it comes to incredible textures and flavors!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Protein packed: There are 8.6 grams of protein in just one serving of this grain salad.
- Vegan & plant-based: We didn't use any meat, eggs, or dairy in this dish so its completely vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based.
- Full of flavor: We use our own balsamic dressing on this dish as well as plenty of fresh veggies, herbs, olives, and sun dried tomatoes. You can't get a more flavorful dish than that!
- Perfect for meal prepping: One of the best qualities of this grain salad is that its a great option for meal prepping. It stores well in the refrigerator and travels well.
Ancient Grains: We're using a combination of quinoa, farro, and barley in this grain salad.
Herbs: I opted to add fresh basil to this dish for an extra fresh taste. Make sure it's fresh and not jarred/dried basil for the best possible flavor.
Balsamic Vinaigrette: We're going to make our own vinaigrette
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
Make it spicy: You can add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the balsamic dressing if you want to make this a spicy grain salad.
Use a store-bought dressing: Though we're making a homemade balsamic vinaigrette you can save a little time by using a store-bought dressing in its place.
Switch up the grains: This recipe calls for quinoa, barley, and farro as the ancient grains but you can swap any of these out for another cooked grain instead.
You can also switch things up and use a different type of dressing such as Italian or another type of vinaigrette.
Step by Step Instructions
Image 1: Start by making all of your grains for the salad because this will take the longest. They all have different cooking times so I prefer to use separate pots but if you get the timing right you can make them all in the same pot, just add the grains at different time markets.
Image 2: Next, stir all ingredients together to make your balsamic vinaigrette and set that aside allowing the flavors to meld.
Image 3: Wash the produce and prep everything according to the ingredient list.
Once the grains have finished cooking and have cooled combine them in a large serving bowl with the remaining ingredients and pour the desired amount of dressing on top.
Image 4: Toss the ancient grain salad until everything is well combined and coated in the balsamic dressing.
Adjust and add more dressing according to your preferences.
How to Serve Grain Salad
- In a wrap: You can use this grain salad as a filler or the main component of a wrap. Just add a scoop or two to your favorite tortilla with some lettuce and a little extra dressing and wrap things up.
- In a traditional salad: Use your favorite greens as a base and toss it with some of this grain salad and extra dressing if needed.
- On its own: This is a complex meal with grains, vegetables, and fats. It's great when served and enjoyed on its own.
- As a side dish: You can serve this dish as a side dish to compliment your favorite protein or as a side at your next picnic or cookout.
- Make the balsamic vinaigrette as soon as your grains start cooking. This will allow enough time for the flavors to meld giving you a better tasting vinaigrette.
- Make extra vinaigrette. Whenever I make a homemade dressing I like to make extra. This allows for flexibility if you choose to add more to the dish or if you're serving the dish over a bed of lettuce or in a wrap.
- Cook the grains with vegetable broth. When you're cooking the grains, swap out the water for vegetable broth to infuse the grains with extra flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ancient grains (like the grains used in this recipe) are a group of grains that have been unchanged for thousands of years and are similar to their original form.
Typically a grain salad will consist of a variety of grains, herbs, vegetables, and some type of dressing or vinaigrette.
Always allow your food to completely cool before storing it. Once cooled to room temperature you can cover the grain salad and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
More Vegan Salads You'll Love
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Ancient Grains Salad
- 1 cup quinoa cooked
- 1 cup farro cooked
- 1 cup barley cooked
- 1 cup cucumber diced
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ½ cup sun dried tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup red onion diced
- 1 cup basil chopped
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Start by cooking all of the grains according to package instructions.
- While the grains cook mix all of the ingredients for the dressing together and set it aside.
- Wash all of the produce and prep them according to the ingredient list.
- Allow the grains to cool before combining all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Pour your desired amount of dressing on top and toss gently until well combined.