Sometimes, nothing sounds better than a big, fresh, texture-rich salad—especially on the dog days of summer when literally every food is best served chilled. These cravings aren't the most convenient, however, as pre-prepped salad doesn't always travel well from the weekend to the weekday, to picnics or camping overnights, on road trips, or through a flight. But soggy salad isn't inevitable; a few simple tricks and tips can take your limp lettuce mix from sad to satisfying.
In the latest episode of Well+Good’s Plant-Based video series, Supernatural founder and herbalist Rachelle Robinett offers a tutorial on packing the ultimate make-ahead salad. "This salad is amazing to make if you're on the go," she says. "It stays fresh for hours after you make it, and prepping it in advance means you don't have to chase down a healthy meal while you're traveling, steering clear of restaurants, or just playing out and about."
What Robinett offers isn't a "recipe" per se, but rather some guidelines to follow for best, non-soggy results. For starters, she recommends you utilize "sturdy" vegetables as a base. She leans toward kale, but says you could use cruciferous veggies instead if the bitter green isn't your fave. You basically just want something that won't wilt immediately (sorry, arugula).
Next, she says, layer on softer veggies, like bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, or mushrooms. Then, follow this layer up by one consisting of a baked, starchy veggie, e.g. sweet potato or squash.
Finally, Robinett advises topping it all of with a hodgepodge of "things you love," an intentionally broad description because really, anything goes: olives, artichoke hearts, fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, avocado, sesame seeds, baked garlic skins, and more.
The resulting mix is her fave grab-and-go; it's easy, versatile, and you can typically find workable ingredients no matter where you are in the world. "You can hardly call it a salad—it's the rainbow of produce, and it tastes so good," Robinett says. "It's just joy and health."
Watch the full video for more ingredient ideas, and to find out the exact mix Robinett uses in the go-to version she calls her "best friend."
Rachelle Robinett's make-ahead salad formula
1 large bunch kale
5 cups raw soft veggies, chopped (such as zucchini, carrot, or bell pepper)
1 cup baked vegetable of choice (such as sweet potato or butternut squash)
Olive oil, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Toppings (such as sliced avocado, olives, nuts, or seeds)
1. Wash kale and remove the thick stems from the leaves. Tear or chop into pieces and add to a large bowl.
2. Cover thoroughly with sea salt and massage leaves forcefully for several minutes, until kale has softened, turned bright green, and reduced in size.
3. Add chopped raw vegetables to the bowl.
4. Chop your pre-cooked vegetables and add to the bowl.
5. Toss everything to combine, then dress lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss again.
6. Divide into five equal servings in reusable glass containers. Top each serving with desired toppings. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
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