If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that hands-down my favorite lunches are grain salad bowls – basically salad greens + a grain + a bean + some veggies and sauce all mixed together.
The grain salad bowl recipes and combinations are endless, so you can mix & match and never get bored! Plus, it requires barely any pre-prep and only a few minutes to throw together. You’re also covered on all nutritional bases, so the meal is satisfying, too: fiber-packed whole grains and colorful veggies, plant-based protein, and healthy fats!
I thought it was time to share a fun post with some of my favorite grain salad bowl recipes and combinations to give you guys some lunch (or easy dinner) inspiration.
So – here’s my formula, so you can make your own crave-worthy grain salad bowls, too!
Mix + Match Grain Salad Bowls
1. Start with Salad Greens
Start by filling your bowl (or packable container) with two big handfuls of greens. Mixed greens, spinach, arugula, and kale are my favorites – but any lettuce or leafy green will work!
2. Add Grains to Your Bowl
Add 1/2 cup cooked whole grains to your salad. I like using microwave plain brown rice or leftover grains from dinner to keep this fast and easy. You can also cook up a batch of brown rice, quinoa, barley, or any other whole grain to use in salads for the week, though!
3. Add Beans or Legumes
Add in 1/2 cup of cooked beans or legumes. Dry beans are really affordable, or if you’re using canned beans, just drain and rinse your beans before adding them in. I especially love chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and frozen/thawed edamame here. Beans are packed with protein and fiber, so this is a great way to give the meal staying power without needing to have meat on hand.
4. Top Your Salad with Veggies
Top your salad with lots of chopped veggies! You can use whatever you have around – cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, snap peas, peppers, green beans, mushrooms, the list goes on and on.
5. Sprinkle on Healthy Fats
Adding healthy fats to your salads makes them much more satisfying – and can add lots of flavor and texture. Pretty much any crumbled or grated cheese or chopped nut is delicious on salad, and avocado tastes good on everything. 😉
6. Dress Up Your Grain Salad
Dressing is such a fun way to get creative with your salad flavors. Most days I keep it super simple by drizzling on a homemade vinaigrette (just oil + lemon juice + dijon mustard + balsamic or red wine vinegar), but again, your options are endless here! Try out these ideas:
- 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 clove grated garlic (optional) – shaken up in a small jar
- a heaping spoonful salsa
- a heaping spoonful hummus
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce, 1 clove grated garlic – shaken up in a small jar (this has a fun Asian flair)
- Vegan Caesar Dressing (make a batch to have on hand for the week!)
- Vegan Creamy Herb Dressing (make a batch to have on hand for the week!)
There you have it! I love how flavorful and filling these bowls are, and it’s so easy to change up the flavors.
Grain Salad Bowl Recipe Inspiration
Now, to put this into action and give you some ideas, here are a few of my favorite combinations (which were pictured in the steps above)!
- Mixed greens + brown rice + black beans + peppers & tomatoes + avocado + salsa (Mexican Salad Bowl with Brown Rice)
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad: arugula + quinoa + chickpeas + cucumber & tomato + feta cheese + lemon juice/balsamic/olive oil/dijon mustard
- Kale + brown rice + edamame + carrots & cucumbers & snap peas + toasted almonds + rice vinegar/soy sauce/sesame oil/garlic
- Spinach + barley + lentils + cucumber & tomato & carrot + goat cheese + lemon/olive oil/dijon mustard/garlic
And one more favorite grain salad recipe: Fall Harvest Salad with Watermelon, Butternut Squash, and Farro. Yum!
Check out these other build-your-own recipes and tips on creating fast healthy meals!
- Avocado Toast 12 Ways
- Mix & Match Stir Fry Recipes
- 15 Pantry Staples for 15 Minute Dinners
- Mix & Match Sheet Pan Dinners
- How to Make a Quick and Healthy Weeknight Dinner
- Mix & Match Pasta Recipes
What are your favorite grain salad bowl recipes or combinations? Let me know in the comments below!