By Marcia Winer, Dietetic Intern [University of Minnesota—The Emily Program]
An integral part of my cooking education was learning how to compromise. I come from a family of six, and it was rare that everyone was 100% pleased with dinner. “I hate baked beans,” “I don’t like spinach,” “Ew, we’re having fish again?” “MOM! Marci’s hiding her mushrooms under her plate!” etc., etc.
We all may be adults now, but compromise is still key. When I want to make a salad for a family dinner, it had better be super-filling and delicious enough to satisfy the masses.
This salad is a crowd pleaser AND it’s healthy. It’s loaded with tasty vegetables, and you can also add tuna or chicken depending on what your audience likes. If you want to go for a vegetarian option, beans are awesome in salads, but they are not a “complete” protein. Adding grains, such as rice, quinoa or barley, to a salad not only adds to the heartiness of the meal, but grains pair with beans to make a complete protein. This salad is vegetarian (vegan, if you omit the cheese) and packs a protein punch!
- 1 cup dry barley
- 1 15-oz. can low-sodium garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cucumber, seeded and chopped
- 10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 3 large plum tomatoes, chopped
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon (1-2 tbsp. depending on the size and juiciness)
- 2 cups mixed salad greens or 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
- Ground black pepper
- Feta cheese
- Prepare barely according to package directions. Remove from heat, fluff, and let cool.
- While barley cooks, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onion slices, oregano, vinegar and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
- In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine 1 tbsp. olive oil with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Cover tightly with lid and shake to mix (This can also be done in a small bowl with a whisk if you prefer). If you had a particularly juicy lemon, add more olive oil as needed.
- Assemble the salads! Lay down a bed of lettuce on four plates. Top lettuce with barley, then the chickpea and vegetable mixture. Lastly, add the olives and feta cheese and drizzle with vinaigrette dressing. You can also opt to toss the salad green with the vinaigrette before assembling plates.
- Get kids involved in cooking! There’s plenty of ways they can help prepare this meal without touching a stove or picking up a knife. Kids can help measure out ingredients, stir the vegetables together, mix the salad dressing, or assemble the salads on the plates. If they help you make it, they are more likely to want to eat it!
- Don’t have any lemons on hand? You can also reserve the red wine vinegar-olive oil mixture that the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber marinated in and drizzle that over the salad instead.
Per serving: 458 calories, 18.02g total fat (3.6 g saturated), 8.43 mg cholesterol, 64.35 g carbohydrate, 0g added sugar, 17.2 g fiber, 382.54 mg sodium