Whether you're entertaining a crowd, or just want to get dinner on the table with ease, these grain salads are great time savers. Each recipe can be made in about 40 minutes or less, and is easily doubled if you're serving lots of guests. Plus, all of them taste great cool, so you can make them a day or two ahead and store them in the fridge until you need them. (Hello, tasty leftovers!) Another bonus: each of these colorful, dairy-free recipes is vegetarian-friendly, the quinoa and rice dishes are gluten-free, and most feature healthy whole grains.
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Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds
In her Hip Kosher cookbook, Ronnie Fein writes "Tiny balls of Israeli couscous are the culinary pearls of the pasta world. This recipe combines sweet and piquant flavors in one dish. It’s a treat with grilled meat or poultry, but also can be used as a snack or hors d’oeuvre."
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Vegan Couscous Salad with Chickpeas Recipe
Jolinda Hackett combines chickpeas, bell peppers, and crunchy cucumber with couscous then dresses it all in a Dijon lemon vinaigrette for a perfectly packable salad that can work as a side or one-dish vegan meal.
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Farro Salad with Spice Roasted Chickpeas and Cauliflower
Farro is a catch-all term that refers to emmer, spelt, and einkorn, three ancient species of wheat. Whatever variety you find, farro is a delicious whole grain with a satisfyingly chewy texture that makes a great base for salads. In this recipe, it's tossed with roasted cauliflower and spiced chickpeas and dressed simply in lemon and olive oil; if you'd like, toss in some roasted red peppers or grape tomatoes for a punch of color and flavor.
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Classic Tabbouleh Salad
You can emphasize the bulgur wheat, or go super heavy on the parsley in Molly Watson's take on the Classic Tabbouleh Salad, tossed with a garlic mint dressing. Either way, it makes a great side for grilled meat, chicken, or fish, or a base for vegetarian bowls with chickpeas or white beans and feta.