I’m a Chef, and This Is the Easy, ‘Clean Out the Fridge’ Healthy Salad I Eat Every Week

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Looking for the easiest, healthiest possible dinner to make in 20 minutes? Try this recipe developer's go-to salad.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: It's the end of the week, you haven't been to the grocery store in days, and the contents of your fridge are pretty random and haphazard. But you're hungry *now*, so you have to figure out how to cobble together something edible with your random food scraps, Chopped style.

Figuring out what that “something” is, though, is harder than showing up to Barry's Bootcamp for a 6 a.m. workout. That’s why we made "cleaning out the fridge" the main task of our latest episode of Cook With Us. Host Jessie Van Amburg (Well+Good's senior food and health editor) challenges chef Rachel Mansfield to make a delicious, vegan meal in 30 minutes or less using the leftover ingredients from her fridge: sprouted grain bread, kale and tahini.

WTF do you do with those ingredients? Mansfield, who’s also a recipe developer and author of the new cookbook Just The Good Stuff, jumps right in by whipping up a vegan garlicky kale caesar salad. “I know what you’re thinkingthere’s no way that something that has kale in it could actually be delicious,” she says. “But I promise, even if you don’t like kale or kale isn’t your thing, you’re going to love this salad.”

She starts by making croutons with the sprouted grain bread, which she recommends should be a little stale for “prime crouton making form.” For the salad itself, Mansfield slices up the dinosaur kale and dresses it with a tangy tahini-garlic dressing (no anchovies or egg required!). Then she tosses it with crispy quinoa and brown rice to add a bit of texture (as well as filling protein and fiber) to the mix. The best part: It all took just 20 minutes to make.

Plus, the tasty salad is like a blank canvas for other toppings and ingredients you have leftover in the fridge. "You can really think of this salad as an 'empty your fridge' kind of salad," she says. "Just add in anything that you have, and anything that you're craving." Leftover roasted vegetables, chopped grilled chicken, you name it. This salad goes with just about anything.

Want the full vegan kale salad recipe? Watch the video here to see for yourself just how easy (and delicious) emptying your fridge can be.

Garlicky vegan kale Caesar salad

3 slices of sprouted grain bread, cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp avocado oil, divided
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 large bunch dinosaur kale
1/4 cup tahini
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Simple Truth 90 second Quinoa + Rice

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Toss the bread cubes in a large bowl with 1 Tbsp oil, garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Transfer the cubes to the prepared baking sheet and bake, flipping them halfway through until toasted, 13-15 minutes. Set aside.

3. Remove the thick stems from the kale and stack the leaves on top of each other. Roll the leaves into a cylinder and slice into thin strips. Place into a large bowl.

4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining avocado oil, tahini, 2 tbsp of water, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, and ½ tsp of salt until well combined.

5. Microwave your quinoa and rice mixture for 90 seconds, then toss the mixture onto a heated stovetop with another drizzle of avocado oil. Let the grains cook until they’re crispy.

6. Add the croutons, crispy rice, and dressing to the kale, toss, and serve.

Looking for more quick dinner hacks? Here's how a trip to the salad bar can help you save on prep time. Or, break out the instant pot with these 8 yummy meals to make in a flash

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