Meatless Monday: Kale Salad with Barley & Beets

This entry was posted on Aug 13, 2018 by Charlotte Bell.

Kale Salad with Barley & Beets

Kale salad is a thing. It’s been a thing for a number of years now. Even so, I don’t see its patina fading just yet. The thing is, it’s really nutritious, and kale’s slightly bitter flavor complements lots of other types of flavors. So maybe there’s a reason it’s still a thing.

In the past, I’ve posted a number of kale salads on this site. As my backyard kale continues to flourish, expect to see more. Today’s kale salad is a meal in a bowl. It takes a little more time than some of the other salads I’ve posted, but it’s a hearty combination of complementary flavors, and well worth the time. The good news is that most of the prep can be easily done ahead of time, and much of it is passive. In other words, you can be doing lots of other things while the beets and barley are cooking and the kale is marinating.

I put this salad together after coming home from a yoga class last week. I had done most of the prep ahead of time, so it took only minutes to put it all together. For example, I cooked the barley in the morning before I went to work. I roasted the beets in the afternoon and put the dressing together and marinated the kale before I went to class.

The original recipe instructions, from bon appetit, say to let the kale marinate in the dressing for three hours before assembling the salad. This is necessary to soften the kale so that it’s tender enough to eat raw. My garden kale was much more tender than the store-bought variety. I let it marinate for about an hour and a half, but I think it would have been fine marinating for an hour. If you use baby kale, I’d suggest an hour or even less. Marinating already-tender kale for too long could make it limp.

This whole salad can be made ahead of time. The flavors improve overnight, so you can enjoy it several days in a row.

Kale Salad with Barley and Beets

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch squares (I used a combination of lacinato and red Russian kale.)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 medium golden beets (about 1 bunch), trimmed
  • 1 1/4 cups whole barley
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar

Put It Together: 

  1. Whisk 1/4 cup oil, white wine vinegar, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add kale and shallots; mix until completely coated. Cover and chill until kale is tender, at least 3 hours. Remember that if you’re using baby kale, or garden kale with smaller leaves, you can cut this time back considerably, to an hour or less.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange beets in a small baking dish and drizzle with a little oil. Season with salt and turn beets to coat. Cover with foil. Bake beets until tender when pierced with a thin knife, about 45 minutes. (I used two large beets, so I cut them in half to roast them. It took about an hour and 15 minutes.) Let cool completely. Peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces (you should have about 2 cups).

  3. Cook barley in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about an hour and 15 minutes. Drain barley and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool completely.

  4. Add beets, barley, and feta to kale. Drizzle salad with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar; fold gently to combine. Season to taste with pepper and more rice vinegar, if desired.

About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.