This Citrus, Kale, and Grain Salad is my favorite. And there’s not even any cheese in it! Roasted oranges, red onion, and sweet potato provide some sweet and fresh bursts of flavor, there is a little kale in there to add some texture and green, and roasted barley and quinoa add a lot of complex and nutty flavor. Served with a sprinkle of Himalayan Salt and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and it is an amazing party in your mouth.
One thing I’ve loved about fall and winter food trends is ancient grain salads. It’s a type of salad that is both delicious and easier for me to digest. There is a little bit of green but not enough for my body to go “What the F Megan. I hate you. HATE.”
You might have noticed that I don’t have a lot of salads on this blog. That’s not because I don’t like them, trust me when I say I LOVE them. But my body does not. Having ulcerative colitis made it difficult to eat salads even at the best of times. Now that I’m living life without a colon and a j-pouch instead I’d say it’s even harder to enjoy a salad. Not very much digestion goes on at all. It is getting better. Just two weeks ago a favorite black bean soup of mine was not a very good idea at all. But now I can eat it pretty well.
Citrus, Kale, and Grain Salad
I’m really proud of myself for creating this Citrus, Kale, and Grain Salad. It was one of those days where you open the fridge and 90% of the time you would usually say, “There is NOTHING to eat.” I dragged out everything in the fridge, and started picking and choosing.
Oranges: because they were really good but also because their skins had been removed in strips in sacrifice to many Old Fashioned drinks. Without the protective covering, they were going to go bad.
Kale: it was slightly wilted and leftover from another grain salad.
Red onion and sweet potato: They somehow managed to not get used during the holiday baking sprees but were looking kind of sad and deflated. Also, I knew that by roasting the oranges, they would become a lot smaller and I wanted this salad to be filling-there wasn’t going to be anything else served with it. And I just love roasted onion and sweet potato.
Barley and quinoa: I had some barley but not enough to serve 5 people so I added quinoa into the mix. Roasting grains adds a lot of flavor. I’ve roasted barley before but not quinoa. It makes a huge difference in both but especially quinoa. You would not believe how much more flavorful roasting made the quinoa, which is extremely plain. It takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. Roasting makes it flavorful enough to have by itself, no lie.
Despite how much I loved the salad, quinoa ended up being too much for my body to handle. It has an extremely high amount of starch that escapes digestion and insoluble fibers, all of which leads my body to go “F you Megan. F you.” But I highly suggest the rest of you keep the combo. The different sized grains provide interesting texture and both have slightly different tastes but they compliment each other nicely.
Citrus, Kale, and Grain Salad
- 1.5 cups uncooked pearled barley
- 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
- 4 cups torn kale small bite sized pieces
- 3 oranges
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 red onion
- 1 + 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan Salt, separated
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lay out quinoa and barley on separate baking sheets (the barley will take a little longer to roast). Roast for 10 to 15 minutes. The quinoa will likely start to brown first so take it out and let the barley go a little longer. Remove from the oven and let the grains cool to room temperature.
- While they cool, bring 4 liters of water to boil along with 8 teaspoons of Morton Kosher Salt. Once the water has reached a roiling boil, add the quinoa and barley and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until al dente. Drain in a fine mesh sieve and layout on baking sheets to cool off.
- While the grains cool off, cut away the skin and pith from the oranges with a pairing knife. Then cut into 1/4th inch slices and then halve or quarter them.
- Tear and massage the kale with a little olive oil and salt. Set aside.
- Peel and slice the sweet potato into 1/4th inch slices. Then halve or quarter them.
- Peel the outer layer of the onion off and slice in half vertically. Then cut them on the diagonal into inch wide wedges.
- Add the sweet potato and onion to a roasting pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Spread out evenly.
- Toss the oranges with a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add them to the roasting pan as well.
- Roast at 350 for 40 minutes, tossing again after the first 20 minutes. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes.
- While cooking, in a large bowl or platter, toss together the cooled grains and kale. Toss the roasted veggies in with everything else and serve. Sprinkle with a little more Himalayan Salt and a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired.
This Citrus, Kale, and Grain Salad sounds like a great dish for the beginner like me to start eating grain, not to mention that I like your take on adding citrus, good salt & balsamic vinegar. What a great healthy dish to start a new year with, Megan 🙂
P.S. I am glad you are getting better that you can enjoy the food you like again 🙂
Good salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil bring so much to the table! I’m never going back! And thank you so much Pang ❤️
This citrusy salad looks amazing and I am sure it’s crazy delicious too! Love your photos by the way 🙂
Thanks so much Jovita!
It’s such a gorgeous looking salad and loves the citrus feel of it. I love kale and we always have barley at home – so I guess we would be trying this very soon.
Thanks Molly! I never used to have barley in the house but this past month it’s transitioned into a must have pantry staple-I love it so much!
This looks so delightful!
Oh my goodness this is so beautiful with such refreshing flavors. LOVE those beautiful orange slices in there.
Thanks Emily! And YES oranges are so pretty and so TASTY right now. I can’t wait till the ones on my tree are ready!
This is the way I aspire to eat! I love the grains and the roasted oranges… Beautiful!
Thanks so much Lisa! I wish I aspired to eat like this more often. I always feel like I really have to put my thinking cap on to make a salad.