Make-ahead, Salads

Kale & Pearl Barley Salad with a Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette

Believe it or not, there are quite a few scrumptious uses for kale that don’t involve a blender (I do love a green smoothie though!) This kale and pearl barley salad is definitely one of them.
Since I made the switch from soup to salad earlier this year, probably around march/April time, I’ve been eating the same boring salad. Quite an achievement though. Anything else and I would have been bored senseless by now. Anyway, I needed a change, and I don’t quite feel like giving in to soup season just yet.

This salad has more of an autumnal, comforting taste than my usual, and combines a lot of my favourite things. Lemon, honey, sunflower seeds, avocado, feta, red onion. Amazing. The lemon-honey vinaigrette really softens up the kale, and makes it surprisingly delicious, and the pearl barley packs it out so it really is a filling lunch.

When in Ireland last week, I realised how much I love salad. Too many days (basically, anything more than 1) were spent making custom baguettes in delis and cafes for my liking. Custom baguettes, you see, because apparently most places in Ireland don’t cater very well for the vegetarian types. I ate so much bread in such a short space of time. Ugh! So this salad was a doubly nice change for me upon my return.

Kale is something I’ve come to love in the past year or so. It is high in vitamin K, which is needed for bone health and normal blood clotting. It is also a great anti-inflammatory food, as well as being good for cardiovascular health and implicated in cancer prevention.

Serves 4-5 (From Sweet Peas & Saffron)


1 cup uncooked pearl barley

4 cups of kale ribbons, stems removed

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 medium red onion, finely diced

1 avocado, cubed

100g feta, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons honey



1. Wash the pearl barley a couple of times in clean, cold water and drain. Pop in a pan of boiling water and cook as detailed on the packet instructions, or just simmer until cooked. When the pearl barley is cooked, rinse under cold water to cool it (so you can add it to the salad straight away!)

2. Put all the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar, put the lid on a shake thoroughly to mix. Pour all over the kale, and with your (clean) hands, rub it into the kale really well. I love this bit.

3. Add the sunflower seeds, chickpeas, red onion, avocado, feta and cooked pearl barley to the kale and mix.

3. Serve straight away or chill until needed.

4. Enjoy! 🙂


Alice x



Make-ahead, Salads

Mixed Bean Salad

As summer draws to a close, and the darker, colder days are on the horizon, tuck yourself into a healthy and colourful salad to keep the spirits high! Less of the summery cucumber and lettuce, more of the wholesome bean. When it starts to get colder outside, and soup season is just round the corner (nearly Christmas!) it is so much easier to just reach for the ‘comforting’ foods. I find that making a big batch of this bright bean salad keeps the hunger pangs, and therefore the temptation, at bay.

Oops, I forgot the pepper and sweetcorn!

Oops, I forgot the pepper and sweetcorn!

In the summer, Liam and I had a barbeque with our parents (where they met for the first time!), and we made a lovely, fresh pearl barley salad and a Moroccan-style couscous salad, inspired by salads I’d seen in the shops. It is incredible how easy it is to make some of the items off the supermarket shelf. I have become a bit of a homemade-food freak as of late. I even asked Liam if I had become the fun police (he said no, and that it is good I have principles!). I just don’t like knowing I am eating all of the preservatives off the shelf, that I could avoid by making food at home. (Told you, fun police.)

This mixed bean salad is a supermarket-salad inspired recipe, where I just worked out the best ratios of the key ingredients and mixed them to create a side/snack that tastes all fresh and light, but is actually nice and filling. I use tinned, cooked beans for this salad, and while you could go the whole hog and cook the beans yourself, it would take a lot of time and effort for something that really should be quick and easy. I can still compromise!

Since moving into our house, I planted the herbs out in bigger pots in the garden, where they have flourished (apart from Greek basil, whom I sincerely apologise to for all the months of neglect on the windowsill). The mint and parsley grow like crazy now, which is great because I needed a big handful of each for the salad. Having fresh herbs growing in the garden draws more appeal to making this mixed bean salad myself too, as the cost comes to less than buying the equivalent from a supermarket.

Both me and Liam eat this as a snack during our day at work (I eat mine mid-morning to fuel me until a later lunch!). As veggies, we sometimes find ourselves lacking in protein-rich meals, so we added this to our day to up our intake. If you split the salad into 6, each serving contains roughly 10g of protein. It’s all win, win, win!


1 can mixed beans/pulses, rinsed and drained

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained

1 large handful fresh mint, washed and finely chopped

1 large handful fresh flat leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

Optional (but well worth it):

1 large red pepper, finely diced

100g frozen sweetcorn


1. If using, cook the sweetcorn in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes. Once cooked, run under cold water in a sieve.

2. Mix the cooked sweetcorn with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and season generously.

3. Chill in the fridge in a sealed tub (it will keep for a while – I’ve gone up to 4 days,  it will probably last a bit longer).

4. Enjoy.

Well, that was easy!

I hope you enjoy all that autumn brings!


Make-ahead, Salads

Asian-Inspired Crunchy Quinoa Salad with Ginger-Peanut Dressing

I don’t think Liam will mind me saying this, because it is true, but I am definitely the more health-minded out of the two of us. I am (obviously) vegetarian, but Liam still eats meat on the odd occasion. I love eating a light and leafy-green salad for my lunch, but Liam likes something more ‘substantial’. This Asian-inspired crunchy quinoa salad has won him over on the salad front. Hoorah!

This main ingredients for this salad are taken from the Ambitious Kitchen. It is not so much about the salad (it is still really good anyway), but the ginger-peanut dressing. I have to say, it is absolutely genius. It really does make everything come together and taste wonderful. Liam and I are HUGE fans.

I do love everything about this salad: the protein-rich quinoa, high-fibre chickpeas and the crunchy red cabbage, pepper and broccoli. It is making me salivate just thinking about it!

The other day, my mother rang me asking if I’d ever eaten ‘Kwi-Noh-Ah’. Of course, I said, but I hastily corrected her pronunciation. I did get it wrong when I first read it though, as I’m sure many of us did. Quinoa is great, though, and is classed as a ‘whole protein’ due to its impressive amino acid content, and it also contains more healthy fats than other grains. Apparently, in 1 cup of quinoa (185g cooked) there is also 21% of your fibre for the day. Bonus!

This really isn’t a complicated recipe. It just requires you to cook the quinoa (which is super easy) and chop up/grate a load of veg. The dressing is made by just stirring a load of things together, and it magically somehow tastes like heaven.  What I imagine heaven would taste like if I believed it to exist and also have a taste, anyway.

This makes around 6 servings, so it is perfect for me to make at the weekend for my lunch during the week. I just keep it in a big bowl in the fridge, covered in cling film, then scoop a portion out into my lunch box every morning. Add a few spinach leaves on the side, a lime wedge and the ginger-peanut dressing, and when I open up my lunchbox to reveal this salad a little smile appears. I love love love it!

This is what you need:


1/3 – 1/2 small red cabbage, shredded

1/2 broccoli head, cut into bite-size pieces

1 red pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

160g carrots, grated

1/2 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa


1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey (or agave)

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 – 2 tbsp water (to thin if you want to)

This is how you make it:

Rinse quinoa in a jug of cold water then drain in a sieve. Place into 1 1/2 cups boiling water over a medium heat and half cover. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed, stirring occasionally (make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom – if you need a bit more water for it to cook, just add some). When cooked, set aside to cool a little.

While this is cooking, prepare all of the vegetables:

Shred the cabbage by slicing very, very thin slices with a serrated knife. Blanch the pieces of broccoli for 20 seconds by just boiling some water in the kettle and pouring it over the broccoli in a jug/bowl. Rinse under cold water to stop it cooking any more. Grate the carrot, and dice the pepper and onion.

When the quinoa is cooled, mix with the vegetables, coriander and chickpeas.

To make the dressing:

In a pan over a low heat, stir the peanut butter and honey for about 30 seconds. Take off the heat and stir in everything else. If you want, add a small amount of water to thin.

Note: If you smell the dressing, the vinegar will make your nose crease. Taste it, it will be lovely.

Stay happy,

Alice x