Make Ahead Salads
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Eating healthy is generally easy when you can do it at home. You know the ingredients used and you’re able to pick your portions. Unfortunately, with everyone’s crazy schedules it can be hard to prepare a healthy meal for yourself or your family every night. That’s why I love meal prepping!

I’m a huge salad eater. It’s a great way to get in my daily greens while also getting the fiber I need to keep me full throughout the day. No, I’m not talking about some boring salad. I’m talking about salads that are meals in themselves—packed with healthy ingredients and flavor.

I chop up all my veggies and prepare on a Sunday night so I can have all my salads ready for the week. Keep in glass containers and drizzle on a bit of dressing right before you are about to eat to avoid sogginess.

For salad prep ideas, here are some of my tried and true favorites. I promise you…the more you think ahead and prep, the better results you’ll have!

Kale & Quinoa Citrus Salad

(via The Kitchn) 

Ingredients:

For the salad and toppings:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (3/4 to 1 pound, with stems)
  • 1/2 heaping cup whole dates
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted whole almonds

For the dressing: 

  • 1 clementine or mandarin orange, juiced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has darkened to a toasty brown and smells caramelized — about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 1/2 cup of cooked onions.
  2. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Add it and the garlic to a 2-quart saucepan set over medium-high heat and sauté for about a minute both to dry the grain and toast it lightly. Add 1-cup water and 1/2-teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to low; cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat but leave the lid on for an additional 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
  3. While the onions are caramelizing and the quinoa is cooking, slice off the muddy bottoms of the kale stems, then slice the rest of the bunch into fine ribbons. Wash thoroughly and spread on a towel to dry.
  4. Pit the dates and slice them into quarters. Roughly chop the almonds, by which I mean try to chop each almond into just two or three pieces, no more.
  5. Make the dressing: Whisk the juices together (you should have about 1/4 cup total of juice, or a little less). Whisk in the maple syrup and olive oil. The dressing will be emulsified but still thin. Stir about 2 tablespoons of the dressing into the quinoa after it finishes cooking.
  6. Assemble the salad: Toss the kale with all of the still-warm quinoa and the caramelized onions. Toss with about half the dressing and taste. Add the remaining dressing if desired, then toss with the dates and almonds. Taste a bite; if it needs more salt, add it now, as well as fresh pepper if desired.

Harvest Salad With Apple Cider Vinaigrette

(via With Salt & Wit)

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • ½ cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed & cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cups kale, center rib removed, and sliced thin
  • 1 medium apple, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup toasted pepitas (or pecans)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper

Apple Cider Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Toss the butternut squash with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to prepared baking sheet. Spread onto even layer.
  1. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes or until roasted. Remove and set aside to cool.
  1. Meanwhile, cook the wild rice per manufactures instructions. Once cooked, let cool.
  1. In a large bowl, combine the kale, apple, dried cherries, pepitas, cooled butternut squash and wild rice. Toss until evenly mixed.
  1. If serving immediately, toss with the dressing and serve.
  1. If preparing the salad ahead of time, store the salad in an airtight container and the dressing in another container. Dress before serving.

Chopped Asian Edamame Salad

(via It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken!)

Ingredients:

Dressing 

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsps fresh ginger (about ½" Slice)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce (or coconut aminos—my favorite soy sauce substitute!)
  • 3 tbsps agave nectar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Salad

  • 1 cup frozen edamame beans
  • 2 carrots (Medium)
  • 1/4 red cabbage
  • 1/4 green cabbage
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsps sesame seeds (black, white, or a combination)

Directions:

  1. Finely mince the garlic and ginger and put in a small bowl. Add all the remaining dressing ingredients and mix. Set aside so that the flavors can intensify as you chop your veggies. You can also make this dressing ahead of time and store in an air tight contained in the fridge.
  2. Thaw the edamame. I always do this by filling a bowl with warm water and letting the edamame soak. It takes about 5-10 minutes for the edamame to thaw with this method.
  3. Peel and grate the carrots.
  4. Chop the red and green cabbage, red pepper, green onion, and cilantro into into small similar sized pieces.
  5. Now in a large bowl, add the thawed and drained edamame, grated carrots, chopped cabbage, red pepper, green onion, cilantro, sliced almonds, and the sesame seeds. Pour the dressing over top and toss well to combine.
  6. You can serve this right away, or you can let everything marinate and serve later. It will just get more flavorful as it soaks. This makes it a great recipe to bring to pot lucks as it just keeps getting better as it sits, and is even still good the next day!

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Make Ahead Salad Recipes

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.