This salad is more than a salad, it is a meal. It has everything you would want in a meal and a salad; protein to sustain your stomach for a while and, fiber and antioxidants (kale & beets), salty feta and a fresh orange zest to round out the flavors. Although I have made this salad/meal with barley (which is wheat free, not gf) you can sub out any grain, like quinoa or wild rice. It would give the same overall effect. This is a meal that gets better over time. You can prepare this a day in advance while the kale softens up from the rice vinegar dressing. Kale is not one of the wimpy greens that shrivels up and gets mushy with a dressing; it’s assertive at first and holds up but with time and maceration in a vinaigrette it absorbs the flavors and softens up a bit. It’s also one of the many reasons you can keep this in the fridge for a few days and grab it as a lunch in a packed container.
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch squares
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 medium, trimmed
1 1/4 cups pearl barley or quinoa or wild rice
4 ounces feta, crumbled
2 teaspoons (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
- Whisk 1/4 cup oil, white wine vinegar, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add kale and shallots; mix until completely coated. Cover and chill until kale is tender, at least 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°. Arrange beets in a small baking dish and drizzle with a little oil. Season with salt and turn beets to coat. Cover with foil. Bake beets until tender when pierced with a thin knife, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely. Peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces.
- Cook barley in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 45 minutes. Drain barley and let cool completely.
- Add beets, barley, and feta to kale. Drizzle salad with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar; gently to combine. Season to taste with pepper and more rice vinegar, if desired.