19 Easy, Travel-Friendly Bean and Grain Salad Recipes We Love

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Dressed leaves and chopped vegetables are all well and good, but they don't exactly make a well-rounded meal. Enter hearty beans and nutty grains, a salad's filling, flavorful, high-protein best friend. Plus, they hold up in the fridge far better than delicate greens, which makes most of these salads great candidates for picnics and make-ahead lunches. Not confident cooking them? We've got basic pro-tips for grains and beans alike. From a bright lentil salad studded with apples and fennel to chewy wheatberries tossed with watercress and a bacon vinaigrette, here are 19 ways to make the most of them, all year long.

Chickpea Salad With Bacon, Cotija, and Roasted Chilies

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

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This hearty chickpea salad is flavored with smoky bacon, salty cotija, and roasted chilies only gets better as it rests overnight. In other words, it's custom-made for making ahead and packing on a camping trip or for lunch at the office.

Get the recipe for Chickpea Salad With Bacon, Cotija, and Roasted Chilies »

Spicy Thai-Style Pomelo, Green Bean, and Zucchini Salad

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Thai pomelos, fresh green beans, zucchini, garlic, and chilies combine in this refreshing summer salad. It's the dressing that packs a punch, thanks to fish sauce, garlic, sugar, and lime with a healthy dose of spicy dried chilies—it strikes the perfect balance of hot, bitter, tart, sweet, and salty all at once. Can't get your hands on a pomelo? Grapefruit'll do just fine in a pinch.

Get the recipe for Spicy Thai-Style Pomelo, Green Bean, and Zucchini Salad »

Wild Rice Salad With Cranberries and Pecans

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

[Photograph: Jennifer Segal]

This hearty salad combines nutty wild rice, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans in a slightly sweet orange-scented vinaigrette. Serve it as a light vegetarian meal or a side dish to roast chicken, turkey, or pork.

Get the recipe for Wild Rice Salad With Cranberries and Pecans »

Make-Ahead Quinoa Salad With Cucumber, Tomato, and Herbs

Make-Ahead Quinoa Salad with Cucumber, Tomato, and Herbs

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Loosely based on Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, this easy make-ahead salad combines grape tomatoes with cucumber, parsley, mint, and quinoa for a bright and refreshing dish that's hearty enough to serve as a light meal.

Get the recipe for Make-Ahead Quinoa Salad with Cucumber, Tomato, and Herbs »

Warm Farro Salad With Asparagus, Peas, and Feta

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[Photograph: Yasmin Fahr]

This warm one-pot farro salad is loaded with tender peas and asparagus, along with heartier ingredients like kale and crunchy almonds. Tossed with a tangy lemon-mustard vinaigrette and briny feta cheese, it's a healthy dish that goes the distance.

Get the recipe for Warm Farro Salad With Asparagus, Peas, and Feta »

Black Bean Salad With Corn, Cilantro, and Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

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[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

This easy Southwestern-style salad combines inky black beans, fresh jalapeños, and corn for a colorful and picnic-friendly side. It gets its bold flavor from a dose of bright-but-basic chili-lime vinaigrette, and crunchy saltiness from a sprinkling of corn chips.

Get the recipe for Black Bean Salad With Corn, Cilantro, and Chili-Lime Vinaigrette »

Whole-Grain Spelt Salad With Leeks and Marinated Mushrooms

[Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

Grain salads are forgiving and flexible, and nutty spelt takes well to all kinds of vegetables. Here, quick-marinated mushrooms, leeks, and cucumbers combine for a refreshing, flavorful salad.

Get the recipe for Whole-Grain Spelt Salad With Leeks and Marinated Mushrooms »

Bright Lentil Salad With Apples, Fennel, and Herbs

Bright Lentil Salad with Apples, Fennel, and Herbs

[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

This bright salad couldn't be more simple, or better, or unexpected. Start with canned Puy lentils for ease, and then toss them in a light cider vinaigrette with olive oil, sweet Pink Lady apples, anise-y fennel, and tart-sweet plum tomatoes. Fresh thyme and basil finish it off.

Get the recipe for Bright Lentil Salad with Apples, Fennel, and Herbs »

Easy Make-Ahead Carrot and Chickpea Salad With Dill and Pumpkin Seeds

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

This chickpea dish improves with time—ideal food for a packed lunch, whether it's at school, the office, or on the road. Our take combines chickpeas with grated carrots, pumpkin seeds, and plenty of dill.

Get the recipe for Easy Make-Ahead Carrot and Chickpea Salad With Dill and Pumpkin Seeds »

Warm Whole Grain Salad With Fennel, Arugula, Prosciutto, and Pecorino

Warm Whole Grain Salad With Fennel, Arugula, Prosciutto, and Pecorino

[Photograph: Lauren Rothman]

Combine chewy grains with salty prosciutto and cheese for a warm salad that's hearty enough to serve for lunch or supper. Roasted fennel adds a light sweetness and arugula delivers a mild, peppery flavor and a touch of green.

Get the recipe for Warm Whole Grain Salad With Fennel, Arugula, Prosciutto, and Pecorino »

Wheatberry and Watercress Salad With Bacon Vinaigrette

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Nutty and chewy wheatberries pair seamlessly with bright, fresh ingredients like peppery watercress, red onion, and scallions. Dressed with a vinaigrette of lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and bacon fat, it's a memorable and hearty savory salad.

Get the recipe for Wheatberry and Watercress Salad With Bacon Vinaigrette »

Charred Corn, Radish, Jicama, and Green Bean Salad with Lime Dressing

Charred Corn, Radish, Jicama, and Green Bean Salad with Lime Dressing

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Chopped salads are all about balancing flavor and texture. In this one, we get the vegetal snap of green beans along with the faint, pear-like sweetness of crisp jicama and the sharp bite of radishes. The thread that ties it all together is corn that's been cooked until deeply charred, bringing out its natural sweetness.

Get the recipe for Charred Corn, Radish, Jicama, and Green Bean Salad with Lime Dressing »

Quinoa Salad With Dried Tart Cherries, Mint, and Feta in Lemon-Sumac Vinaigrette

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[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

This quinoa salad takes Middle Eastern flavors and ties them together with a tangy sumac-laced lemon vinaigrette. The mix of tart, dried cherries, mint, parsley, salty feta, and pomegranate seeds is enough to make you forget you're eating healthy.

Get the recipe for Quinoa Salad With Dried Tart Cherries, Mint, and Feta in Lemon-Sumac Vinaigrette »

Farro Salad With Blue Cheese, Pine Nuts, and Tomatoes

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[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

In this simple recipe, farro is simmered with onion, garlic and carrot to impart flavor. Then, it's combined with a host of fresh ingredients: juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs, all of which are tied together with red wine vinaigrette, pine nuts, and crumbled blue cheese.

Get the recipe for Farro Salad With Blue Cheese, Pine Nuts, and Tomatoes »

2-Bean Salad With Fire-Roasted Jalapeños and Pickled Red Peppers

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[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Two types of beans—red kidney and green beans—are combined with pickled red peppers and fire-roasted jalapeños in this amped-up redux of the time-honored three-bean salad.

Get the recipe for 2-Bean Salad With Fire-Roasted Jalapeños and Pickled Red Peppers »

Fruity Black Rice Salad With Cilantro, Avocado, and Pepitas in Chili-Orange Vinaigrette

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[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

This black rice salad is full of color: avocado and cilantro for a shock of green, mangoes, and oranges for some fruity-sweet contrast, followed by a sprinkle of red onion and a shower of earthy, crunchy pepitas, all tied together with chili and cumin-spiked orange vinaigrette.

Get the recipe for Fruity Black Rice Salad With Cilantro, Avocado, and Pepitas in Chili-Orange Vinaigrette »

Roasted Chickpea and Kale Salad With Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Chickpeas are roasted with cumin and paprika until they're dense and nutty. Combined with kale, fresh herbs, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes, this is a salad that gets even better on the second day (if it lasts that long).

Get the recipe for Roasted Chickpea and Kale Salad With Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette »

Carrot and Rye Berry Salad With Celery, Cilantro, and Marcona Almonds

Carrot and Rye Berry Salad with Celery, Cilantro, and Marcona Almonds

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

A hearty salad with rye berries, tender carrots, onions, cilantro, celery, and toasted Marcona almonds in a simple olive oil vinaigrette. It's healthy but satisfying, with lots of textural contrast and fresh flavor.

Get the recipe for Carrot and Rye Berry Salad with Celery, Cilantro, and Marcona Almonds »

Quinoa Salad With Watercress, Oranges, Avocado, and Almonds

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[Photograph: Jennifer Segal]

For a salad that's light and tasty, this quinoa salad topped with delicate greens, citrus, avocado, and almonds is just the ticket. Citrus adds bright flavor and contrasts with the crunchy nuts and creamy avocado.

Get the recipe for Quinoa Salad with Watercress, Oranges, Avocado, and Almonds »