Kale, Barley and Chickpea Salad with Tahini-Dijon Dressing

January 06 , 2016 by: Taylor Main Dishes, Salads

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Okay okay, I know what you’re thinking, “I do not want to eat a kale salad. I will eat anything except a kale salad. A curry with vegetables, fine, an eggplant wrap fine, but this, this is too far. Raw kale is for rabbits and I simply won’t have it.”

And I would have been on your side, as little as 6 months ago. Without the proper treatment, raw kale is not delightful. It’s like a chewy, bitter mouthful of grass. However, if it has been properly prepared using these very simple steps I am going to show you, it completely transforms into a hearty, tender, flavorful and filling base for some delicious salads. I’m telling you, it’s like magic.

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There are two key steps to making the magic happen.

1. Chop the kale very finely. I’m talking small, like shredded cheese small.

2. Massage the kale well. This is the magical part, throw the chopped kale in a big bowl, sprinkle some salt onto it and squeeze it with your hands over and over. It will not only change color but texture also, going from rough and bright green to soft and a deeper, darker green.

I made this handy picture to show the steps. Look at the difference in volume between the first photo and the last, HUGE change. It’s about 1/4 of the original volume by the end.

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This salad is super healthy and balanced – whole grain barley, incredibly nutrient-rich kale, protein-packed chickpeas and a light, creamy, flavorful dressing, it doesn’t get much healthier, AND it’s delicious.

Also, unlike lettuce, kale won’t get wilted and soggy after a day or two in the fridge, so this would be an awesome make-ahead lunch. You could make it on Sunday, pack it in the fridge and eat it throughout the week. Did I mention it’s super healthy and filling too? Score.

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Actually, that is why we first made this recipe. Caleb wanted a healthy snack he could have ready to eat in between meals and we decided we wanted to make a kale salad with barley because we’d just tried a delicious kale salad from Minimalist Baker and Caleb loves barley. Ta dah.

It’s also really easy and fast to make. Just throw the barley on the stove, and while it cooks, chop/massage the kale and whip up the dressing. Thirty minutes later, throw it all together in a bowl and bam, delicious healthy lunches for the week (or dinner for the night)!

One note, even though it is a small amount, the red onion is essential. The balance it adds makes a big difference so please don’t omit it. However, the almonds are totally optional. I liked the added crunch but Caleb liked it better without them.

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Kale, Barley and Chickpea Salad with Tahini-Dijon Dressing
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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

This super healthy and hearty kale salad is quick and easy to make, and holds up well in the fridge for a few days, the perfect make-ahead lunch!


  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 8 cups kale, large stems removed
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 c. diced red onion
  • 1/4 c almonds, chopped (optional)
  • For the dressing-
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T dijon
  • 3 T water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/8 t black pepper


  • 1. First, cook the barley. Put 3 cups of water and 1 cup of uncooked pearl barley in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover and let simmer until barley is tender, 25-35 minutes. Cooking times vary. It will be soft but still chewy.
  • 2. While the barley is cooking, prepare the kale. Chop the kale into very fine ribbons, about the size of shredded cheese. Put chopped kale in a large bowl, add 1/2 t salt and massage the kale. Squeeze the kale over and over with your hands. It will go from rough and bright green to soft and a deeper, darker green. Set aside.
  • 3. Now, make the dressing. Put all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.
  • 4. When barley is cooked, drain the barley and rinse it with cold water.
  • 5. Finally, add the barley, chickpeas, red onion, almonds (if using) and dressing to the bowl of prepared kale and stir.

Kale, Barley and Chickpea Salad with Tahini-Dijon Dressing | Two Shakes of Happy


  • Like the other posts, you’ve made the kale seem inviting. The pictures, the instructions, and your creativity make for a excellent blog. Very professional, and it’s interesting when you share the local experience as well, I’ve read every word.

    • Thank you!! I’m having so much fun, glad you like it:)

  • Looks amazing!! I can’t wait to try this one! Maybe tomorrow night!

    • Yay! You must try it!

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