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Barley Kale Salad with Apples

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This barley kale salad is packed with flavor and nutrition. It’s an excellent choice for lunch or dinner since it’s high in protein, low in calories, and will keep you full for hours! The combination of kale, apples, and butternut squash flavors makes it a delicious and satisfying meal.

The simple orange shallot dressing adds a hint of sweetness that ties all the flavors together! Enjoy this salad as a main dish, or pair it with your favorite proteins to make an amazing dinner.

Kale and squash salad mixed with apples and barley.

Grain salads are so versatile, and this Fall barley salad is no exception. It is a well-rounded, comforting one-pot meal and a perfect way to blend all the season’s flavors. 

Barley has a nutty flavor and chewy texture when cooked al dente, and it interchanges well with pasta or rice for a unique variation on a rice salad or pasta salad.  

If you like this vegetarian barley salad, you may like our chicken and barley salad or our other barley recipes. And if you love kale, try our sweet potato kale salad or our kale Caesar.

Here is Why This Recipe Works

  • The barley gives it a delightful texture and adds some healthy whole grains to the mix.
  • Perfect make-ahead salad because it is even better the next day after the flavors mingle.
  • Doubles as a hearty main dish or a side salad
  • It makes a large batch so you can enjoy it for several days without having to spend any extra time in the kitchen.

Mixed veggies and barley in a salad bowl.

The Ingredients for Kale and Barley Salad

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details. 

  • Barley
  • Butternut squash 
  • Pecans
  • Kale 
  • Apples
  • Raisins
  • Parsley
  • Chives

We made a homemade dressing for this salad, but you can use your favorite store-bought vinaigrette. 

How to Make It

Here is a brief overview of this delicious kale and barley salad recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

  1. Cook the barley.
  2. Roast the butternut squash and toast the pecans
  3. Wash the kale and tear it or slice it with a knife. 
  4. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. 
  5. Make the dressing and toss with the salad. 

Pouring dressing over a kale salad.

Tips for Success

  • Save time and purchase pre-sliced squash. Many grocery stores sell butternut squash that is already peeled and cubed. 
  • The stem of the kale is tough and fibrous. Strip the leaves off the stem and toss the stem out. 
  • Cut the apple and butternut squash into bite-sized pieces
  • After you toast the pecans and cook the barley and squash, let them cool before adding them to the salad. 
  • Don’t add all of the dressing at once. After several hours, the barley will have absorbed some of the dressing, and you may wish to add more later on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat kale raw in a salad?

Absolutely. Raw kale is excellent in salads and retains a firm, crisp texture for several days.

How do you make kale less bitter for a salad?

The citrus dressing in this recipe will marinate with the kale and help reduce the bitterness. Let the salad sit in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes before serving it.

Kale salad with chunks of squash, barley, apple, and pecans.

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Kale and squash salad mixed with apples and barley.

Barley Kale Salad

This kale and squash salad is a delicious combination of flavors and textures. This salad does not wilt when prepared ahead of time, making it ideal for serving at a gathering.
5 from 9 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 164kcal
Author: Dahn Boquist


  • 1 cup 200 g pearled barley
  • 2 pounds 900 g butternut squash peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup 100 g pecans
  • 4 kale leaves stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 apples cored and diced
  • 1 cup 165 g raisins
  • ½ cup 30 g chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup 12 g chopped chives

For Orange Shallot Dressing:

  • cup olive oil
  • cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ small shallot peeled
  • zest from one organic orange
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  • Place the barley in a large pot with a pinch of salt and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes until cooked through but still has a slight chew to it. Drain any remaining water and set barley aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, Place the butternut squash cubes on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake in a 350° oven for 5 minutes to toast. Roughly chop the pecans
  • When the barley, squash, and pecans are cooled, place them in a large bowl and add the kale, diced apples, raisins, parsley, and chives.
  • For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  • Pour half the dressing over the salad, taste, and add more dressing if desired.


If you make the salad in advance, only pour a small amount of dressing on the salad — just enough to coat the veggies. Since the barley will soak up all the dressing within 12 hours, I like to reserve most of the dressing for serving time.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 120mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g

Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandchildren or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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