I don’t know about you guys, but the way we cook and eat at home totally changes during the summer. We do much less cooking in the oven, which means less make ahead casseroles and less baking on my end. There’s a lot more grilling, more utilization of fresh fruits and veggies, and more spur of the moment farmers market purchases than planned ahead trips to the grocery store. In general, we don’t do as extensive meal prep on Sunday nights in the summer as we do in the winter when it’s cold out and being in the kitchen feels fun and cozy. We’d just rather be outside and enjoying the nice weather, you know? Stress free fitness to me also means stress free meal prep!

With this in mind, one of our go to summer lunches is a summer fruit and barley salad. I guess technically we use the stove to cook the barley, but you don’t have to preheat the oven for anything, so it’s all good. I love this for a change of pace from a regular ole salad with tomatoes and cucumbers. I love that, but it’s just nice to switch things up every once in a while. Plus, this fruit and barley salad is so pretty and colorful for a summer meal!

Summer Fruit and Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Summer Fruit and Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette 

Serves 4
Salad Ingredients (all approximate)
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • 1 large bunch or two small bunches of lettuce, rinsed and shredded
  • A pint of strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • Half a pint of blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Dressing Ingredients
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook barley per package directions. As the barley cooks, slice your fruit and prepare the lettuce as indicated above. Use a small bowl to combine all of the dressing ingredients, and make sure to whisk well. Once the barley is done cooking, plate your lettuce and add the barley and fresh fruit. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds and crumbled cheese on top, and then dress as desired with the lemon vinaigrette.

Super easy!

Summer Fruit and Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

When we make this, we’ll usually plate in separate bowls or separate Tupperware containers because we’ll eat the salads for a few lunches during the week. However, if we were to have people over or make this to bring with us to a summer BBQ, I’d just put it all in one giant bowl. We also often eyeball the amount of ingredients, so don’t get too hung up on using an exact amount of strawberries, blueberries, sunflower seeds, etc.

Summer Fruit and Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Normally we will cook up a batch of barley per the package directions (we use the Trader Joe’s brand). I estimated 1 cup uncooked for this specific recipe, but I like to cook up a batch and then use the leftover barley for other meals throughout the week. The same goes for the fruit if we end up washing and slicing up more than we put on the salads. We’ll use the leftovers as snacks or for smoothies. Using ingredients like this for multiple purposes throughout the week is a total time saver when it comes to meal prep!

Summer Fruit and Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

For the lettuce, we typically use green leaf for this recipe, but you really could use any green of choice here: red leaf lettuce, kale, baby spinach, mixed greens, etc. For extra protein, you could also add shredded chicken or use quinoa instead of barley if you want. Again, I like this salad because it’s so fresh and juicy. You almost don’t need as much dressing as normal because of all the juices from the fruit. And the sunflower seeds add a really nice crunch, as well as provide a great alternative for adding nuts to your salad for those with nut allergies.

Summer Fruit and Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I think this would make a great option for 4th of July weekend coming up… lots of red, white, and blue! For other 4th of July recipe inspiration, you may also be interested in:

Almost Mediterranean chickpea salad

Red, white, and blue salsa

Caprese party skewers

Festive food for the fourth

Grilled chicken pesto burgers

Grilled pineapple chipotle salsa

Red, white, and blue cheesecake bites

Feel free to leave a comment telling me how your summer eating habits are different from your winter ones! What are your go to summer meals and snacks? Do you have any festive 4th of July recipes that you like making?


Local followers, if you are looking for a workout before the long weekend this 4th of July, just a quick reminder that I will be teaching a free bootcamp class this coming Thursday night (6/30)! The class will be held at 5:30pm in Legacy Place as part of their Free Fitness Thursday series this summer. Basically every Thursday from now until the end of August there will be a free fitness class offered, so make sure to check out the full schedule.

For those interested in attending this coming Thursday night, make sure to RSVP here! All you need to bring is your body, a water bottle, and your own mat. And maybe a friend because it’s going to be super fun! If you can’t make it this Thursday, save the dates for Thursday 7/14 (featuring a live DJ yessss) and Thursday 8/4. I’ll be teaching again then! Would love to see some some familiar and new faces there!