This is my FAVORITE apple spinach salad with barley and raisins. Versatile enough to be a holiday side or an everyday lunch – it’s chewy, salty, sweet, and nutty with the smack of balsamic; SO yummy.
This salad....this salad, I’ve been making for over ten years. It’s one of those tried and true recipes that I’ll make for weeks at a time, move onto another favorite, and temporarily loose touch with – like the best friend you move away from. You still love each other, but with life being so busy, you don’t talk as much as you’d like. When you can finally get together, you pick back up where you left off and never miss a beat.
Every time I make it, I remember how much I loved it when I first made it. It reminds me of the happy, exciting space of being a novice cook – one of the times I’d created a new recipe that actually come out great. There’s something about the soft, chewy texture of the barley mixed with the nutty peanut butter, under sweet raisins and crisp apples.
Apples and spinach are BFFs like me and Jenny
My longest friend, Jenny, and I grew up together on the same street in Milford, Massachusetts. Our moms were, and still are, best friends too. Jenny and I never went to school together, but I’d run down to her house to play, we’d make Halloween costumes together, build lemonade stands to raise money for one cause or another, and buy little gifts for each other – for no reason at all.
I see her when I go back to Massachusetts, when we stay with her mom on the Cape. I even had the honor of being the matron of honor in her wedding. It made my heart so happy. Now she’s got a beautiful daughter that I don't get to see nearly enough, but we can drop a text to each other and feel like we’ve still got a connection. I hope to head up some day soon and catch up – and Jenny and I will pick up right where we left off. She’s definitely my apples & spinach friend.
Here’s a pic of us from her bachelorette party….
The more refined Apple Spinach Salad with and Raisins
Now that I’ve grown from my past self when I originally created this recipe over ten years ago in 2011, I’ve made this salad in a slightly new way.
Instead of using pearled barley, I use hulled. (But if all you've got is pearled, go with it!)
Hulled barley is the just-as-chewy-but-more-nutritious version of pearled barley. It does take a little longer to cook, about double the time, if you have it, but it’s still got the outer husk and bran layer, offering more blood-sugar balancing fiber, and is considered a whole grain.
Pearled barley is a polished, softer barley that’s just as tasty as hulled, but is more processed. Think of this version as the Sex and the City version of the salad – all the fun of a city girl, but with a little more life experience – grown up and refined.
What are the health benefits of eating an apple and spinach salad?
Apple and spinach salad is a nutritious and delicious way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet. Here are some health benefits of eating an apple and spinach salad:
Rich in vitamins and minerals: Spinach is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as folate and minerals like iron and calcium. Apples are high in vitamin C and potassium.
High in fiber: Both apples and spinach are high in fiber, which can help promote digestive health, regulate blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol levels.
Low in calories: A salad made with spinach and apples is relatively low in calories, making it a great option for those who are watching their weight.
Antioxidant-rich: Apples and spinach are both high in antioxidants, which can help protect against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Anti-inflammatory properties: Spinach contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
An apple and spinach salad is a great way to boost your nutrient intake and support your overall health!
Allergies? I’ve got you covered!
If you’re allergic to barley due to a gluten allergy, no worries! Sub your favorite grain, or even quinoa.
For peanut allergies try soy nut butter, sunflower seed butter or any other nut butter.
Why do apples and spinach make such a great salad?
Apples and spinach make a great salad for several reasons:
Complementary flavors: The sweetness of the apples complements the slightly bitter taste of spinach, creating a well-balanced flavor profile.
Textures: Apples and spinach have different textures, with the crispness of the apples contrasting with the softness of the spinach leaves. This creates an interesting texture that can make the salad more enjoyable to eat.
Nutrient density: Both apples and spinach are highly nutritious foods that are low in calories, making them an ideal choice for a healthy salad. They are both rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which can help support overall health.
Versatility: Apples and spinach are versatile ingredients that can be paired with a variety of other ingredients to create a salad that is customized to your taste preferences. You can add other fruits, nuts, seeds, or proteins to the salad to create a more filling and satisfying meal.
Overall, the combination of flavors, textures, and nutrient density make apples and spinach a great choice for a healthy and delicious salad. Giiiirrrrrlll, you're gonna love it.
The BEST Apple Spinach Salad with Barley and Raisins
1 cup hulled barley
3 cups vegetable broth
1 10 oz package of baby spinach or greens
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup raisins
2 apples, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. Rinse barley and in a medium stock pot, add barley and broth; heat to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, remove from heat for 10 minutes. For cold salad, let cool completely, or continue with warm barley for a warm salad.*
2. Place 1 1/3 cups cooked barley in a large bowl, reserve remainder for another use, or freeze for later. Spoon peanut butter into barley and mix well. Add spinach to barley mixture and toss.
3. Top salad with raisins and apples; divide salad mixture over four plates; drizzle 2 Tbsp balsamic over each serving; season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
*For pearled barley, cook to package directions
Nutrition Facts for Spinach Salad with Peanut Butter Barley, Apples and Raisins
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 9.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 211.0 mg
Potassium 645.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 48.6 g
Dietary Fiber 8.2 g
Sugars 12.1 g
Protein 7.0 g
Vitamin A 113.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 13.3 %
Vitamin C 39.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 8.1 %
Calcium 8.4 %
Copper 11.4 %
Folate 31.9 %
Iron 18.3 %
Magnesium 17.3 %
Manganese 38.2 %
Niacin 8.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.7 %
Phosphorus 8.0 %
Riboflavin 10.2 %
Selenium 7.3 %
Thiamin 8.8 %
Zinc 5.3 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.