Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs

We’re stepping a bit outside the Thanksgiving box today.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.

Because, although not a traditional holiday side dish, this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely worthy of a spot on your holiday table. It’s full of dried cranberries, whole grains, white beans and seasonal fresh herbs like fresh rosemary, sage and thyme and literally is a Thanksgiving explosion in your mouth. You’re going to get this one on the menu STAT.

I’ve been a big fan of grain salads for quite a while now, as evidenced by this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad, this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad and this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans. I love them because they are filled with a ton of healthy ingredients and filling to boot. The whole grains give them plenty of heft to make them completely suitable as an entire meal, although they are equally delicious (and the portions go a bit further) if you serve them as a side dish among all the other delicious things you typically serve up for a holiday meal.

I’m not joking when I say tell you this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs tastes like your entire Thanksgiving menu in a bowl. Sure, there’s no turkey in there (although you could easily add some and I wouldn’t be one bit upset about it) but just the cranberries and the fresh herbs alone are enough to mentally transport you to arguably the most well-known food holiday of the year. I love allll the fresh herbs, but there’s also just something about fresh sage in a recipe that really screams fall and all the deliciousness that comes with it.

A bowl of this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is filling enough to be a delicious vegan holiday meal.

As far as making the dish goes, it couldn’t be easier. Not only does it come together fairly quickly (the longest step will be cooking up the grains) but it can also be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature, which means it’s easy to fit into an already busy cooking and kitchen schedule once T-day rolls around.

For the whole grains, I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous because they were what we had on hand, but feel free to use other varieties such as quinoa, barley or even wild rice. I also added in some toasted pine nuts, and I highly recommend you do not skip this step, even if you want to sub in some other type of toasted nut for that little extra crunch. (Pecans? Almonds? So many possibilities.)

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is an easy, make-ahead side dish for the holidays.

I would also like to point out that said Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely vegan, which makes it a delicious, healthy, high-protein option for anyone in your group that may have certain dietary preferences. It’s a great way to serve them up some protein and filling flavor without having to bend over backwards making some sort of interesting Tofurkey creation.

Since I was developing recipes so far in advance this holiday season due to our little one’s arrival, I served this up as a side dish at my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration we held down here in Santa Barbara at the beginning of October. Let’s just say my sisters-in-law were already requesting I make it as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal when we go celebrate with them in a couple of weeks.  I hope you decide to add it to your menu as well!

Serve this vegan Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs as a hearty side dish or light, healthy meal during the holidays.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs
Prep Time
10 mins

This festive vegan side dish is full of filling whole grains, protein-rich white beans and pine nuts, and the freshest herbs of the season. 

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 2 cups cooked grains of your choice (I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous)
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days before serving.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs |

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad

The perfect weekend recovery food!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad |

This Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad is a perfect, healthy, filling meal if I ever saw one, and it’s oh so delicious. If any of you had a weekend like I had, you’re definitely ready to whip this up with your favorite lean protein for dinner tonight.

As I mentioned on Friday, we were up in Santa Cruz visiting my parents this weekend, which also happened to involve helping my little sis move into her new house and having an early Sunday birthday brunch for me. All of the family affairs, celebrations and craziness never make for the healthiest eating, but I never restrict myself (everything in moderation!) and just make sure to eat extra-healthy in the days leading up to and following all of the madness. That’s what balanced living is all about!

So when we rolled back into town late last night, all I wanted was a big bowl of whole grains and veggies. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad sitting around in the fridge, so we had to settle with takeout. Not necessarily the healthiest of options (although we still try to get a well-balanced meal even when we order out) but we knew we’d get right back in the groove of healthy eating today. Smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch. You get the idea! This should last all of two days since my birthday is on Wednesday, but we only live once, right?

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad |

It’s no secret that ever since I tried the most delicious grain salad in Napa, I have been obsessed with the idea of them. It was way back in May of last year that I made this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans, so I figured now that we’re having some warmer “salad-friendly” weather here in California, it was high time for me to come up with another fun version featuring some of spring’s freshest produce. I’m very happy to say that this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad is not going to let you down and, even better, if you don’t love butter as much as I do, you can easily make this dish vegan!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad |

So let’s get down to the dirty details. First of all, if you live anywhere near a Trader Joe’s, you’re already in great shape. I got all of my ingredients for this salad there, except for the lemons because we have an abundance of them growing in our yard at the moment. That being said, you really shouldn’t have any trouble getting these ingredients at just-your-average grocery store, TJ’s just makes it soooo convenient.

I started out by sautéing some fresh leeks and garlic in a healthy dose of butter. It may seem like a lot at first, but keep in mind that we’re adding much more to this dish than just leeks and garlic, and all of those extra ingredients mean we need all of that extra butter. BUT, if you are trying to be uber-healthy or if you follow a vegan diet, you can swap in good ol’ coconut oil and this salad will still turn out amazing. Promise.

After our leeks and garlic have started sweating it out a bit, we add some fresh corn kernels. If you don’t happen to live in an area where you can get fresh corn year round, frozen kernels would also work just fine.

The corn kernels are followed by our cooked, shelled edamame, which Trader Joe’s conveniently sells prepped and ready to go in their produce section. Again, if you don’t have access to these, a frozen bag of shelled edamame would work just fine. Just be sure they’re already cooked!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad |

The final steps are to throw in some pre-cooked barley (a great thing to meal prep on the weekends and throw into healthy meals all week) and some snipped fresh chives. The only sort of dressing that graces our salad is the aforementioned butter and a hefty dose of fresh lemon juice. I do want to mention one thing about the ¼ cup quantity I’ve called for here: we have Meyer lemons in our backyard, which tend to be more sweet and less tart than your average lemons. That being said, if you are using standard lemons, you may want to dial it back just a tad. Just remember to taste as you go and balance the acidity out with the salt. You’ll do just fine!

This Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad is full of filling carbohydrates (which I know some of you colder-weather readers are still totally craving right now) yet plenty of fresh, vibrant produce to remind us that spring is just around the corner. It comes together in under 20 minutes and tastes just as good hot or cold, making it perfect to have on hand for any situation that requires a healthy meal ASAP. It’s quickly become another go-to of mine and I hope it will soon become one of yours too!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad |

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

This hearty and healthy grain salad is the perfect dish to usher in warmer weather - loaded with filling carbohydrates and vibrant produce, enjoy it alone or with your favorite lean protein!

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil, for vegan version)
  • 1 trimmed leek, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups corn kernels (about 2 small ears)
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled, cooked edamame
  • 2 cups cooked barley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  1. Melt butter or coconut oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes, until leeks begin to sweat and become fragrant. Add corn kernels and turn heat up to medium-high.

  2. Let corn kernels cook for another 3 minutes, then add edamame. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn and edamame begin to get golden flecks on their skins (a slight char.)

  3. Turn heat back down to medium and add barley and chives. Stir to combine.

  4. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper (tasting as you go) until you’ve achieved your desired level of balanced flavors. Serve warm or cold. 

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad |