Warm Grain Salad with Kale, Portobellos and Sweet Potato

This combination of flavors is simply outstanding. I can’t take credit for dreaming this one up on my own. I had the monthly salad special at Sweetgreen recently and found it to be so memorable, I rushed home to try it out myself. This brightly colored salad is about as close an approximation as I’ve ever achieved to a “restaurant meal.” The fact that it’s teeming with power foods like kale, sweet potato and whole grains means it’s great for you, too.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup farro
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz. portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 large kale leaves, tough stem removed
  • 1 red pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 6 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Bring a small saucepan of generously salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, pearl barley and farro. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 25 minutes, or until grains have softened (see tips). Drain and set aside.
  • Toss sweet potato with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the portobello mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Toss the sweet potatoes, then push them to one side of the pan. Add the mushrooms to the baking sheet and place the pan back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the salad.
  • Slice the kale into very thin strips. Place it in a large bowl, then drizzle with the final tablespoon of olive oil. Use your fingers to massage it a little, allowing it to soften.
  • To assemble the salad, toss the warm grains, roasted sweet potato, mushrooms and kale in a large bowl with the red pepper and goat cheese. Whisk together the pesto, sriracha and lemon juice. Toss dressing with the salad until evenly coated. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. You can use any mixture of grains you like. Consider brown rice, wheat berries, bulgur or freekeh. If you are using heartier grains, like wheat berries, add them to the water first and cook for 10 minutes before adding the rest of the grains.
  • 2. This is the type of salad that can be enjoyed right away or refrigerated for later. It’s even better the next day when the flavors have had time to meld in the fridge.
  • 3. I used baby bellas to make this, but you can also use the large portobello mushroom caps.
  • 4. During the winter, I might have some pesto in the freezer from the previous summer. If not, you can easily find pesto in the refrigerated section near the fresh pastas and sauces. Having blown through my stash early this year, I had to use the stuff from the store.
  • 5. Sriracha is a Thai-style hot chili sauce. It’s bright red and contains a mixture of red chilies, garlic, vinegar, sugar and salt. You can find it in the ethnic foods aisle near the Asian sauces. A note to vegetarians – the brand I have contains fish sauce. You should check the ingredient list to be sure if this is an area of concern for you.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 35 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4




12 responses to “Warm Grain Salad with Kale, Portobellos and Sweet Potato”

  1. Amy Tu says:

    LOVE this recipe!! It’s the perfect combination: yummy + healthy + easy. It’s so delicious you don’t even need the goat cheese. We will be making this one again & again!

  2. Jenn Miller says:

    Thanks so much for de-coding this Sweet Green recipe! I’ve been thinking about this salad since I had it last month and your recreation is spot-on! DELISH!

  3. Patricia says:

    Hi Alicia. I just googled “warm grain salad” and found your blog. I, too, have been thinking about this salad I had at Sweetgreen last Saturday. I just bought all the ingredients and am going to make the salad tonight! Can’t wait. Your blog is great! Glad I found you.

  4. Nancy says:

    WOW! This salad was amazing. Googling the ingredients I had on hand led me here, and I’m so glad. Can’t wait to eat the leftover tomorrow!

    • Alicia says:

      So glad you landed here and thrilled you enjoyed this salad. It’ll be a regular here as long as these ingredients remain in season. Thanks for your kind comment!

  5. Lise says:

    This will now be known to me as The Miracle Salad. I suspected I would like it (yum!), but my daughter, a terribly picky eater and hater of anything green, actually ate it and now wants it as her bedtime snack. Amazing!!!!! I substituted feta cheese for the goat cheese and it works beautifully. Thanks Alicia!

  6. Eliza says:

    Looks delish. Does anyone have any suggestions for gluten-free grains to replace the barley and farro that would keep the dish as close to the original as possible?

    • Alicia says:

      Hi Eliza! Yes, you might try quinoa and/or brown rice. Both are gluten free and similar in texture. Let me know how it turns out! Alicia

  7. Brittany says:

    This looks so good Alicia. I’m pinning now and will be trying the recipe soon!

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