Vegetable salads that can be dressed well in advance?
October 14, 2010 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Vegetable salads that keep or even get better, when already dressed, for at least a few hours?

We tend to eat in our kitchen, even when entertaining. So I prefer to only serve things that can be completely made up quite a while in advance and then held in the oven or in the fridge or out on a counter, while I clean all the preparatory dishes and put everything away.

I like dressed salads, but the ones I usually do for my family are a challenge in this regard, because they have to be dressed at the table, or just before.

Usually I just roast vegetables, because those hold nicely. But I'd like recipes or ideas for dressed salads of vegetables that keep, or even get better, for at least a few hours (or even overnight!).

I'm not interested in pasta salads or grain salads or potato salads -- I have several of each in my repertoire, but I'm looking for something that would be served alongside a meal that has plenty of carbs already.
posted by palliser to Food & Drink (38 answers total) 97 users marked this as a favorite
Although Texas Caviar is technically a dip, I keep a batch of it in the fridge and toss it with some lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers to make a quick, substantial salad.
posted by Sara Anne at 11:49 AM on October 14, 2010

french composed salads as a type are all what you are looking for. Vary from simple grated carrots to green beans vinaigrette, beets, all the way to more complicated things like salade nicoise.
posted by JPD at 11:52 AM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

My favorite way to make brussels sprouts is to boil (if frozen) or saute (if fresh) until cooked, then chill with small tomatoes in vinaigrette. Serve them cold, so don't use olive oil or butter because it'll congeal. This salad gets better the longer it marinates. You can add fresh mozzarella to the salad, if you wish.
posted by workerant at 11:55 AM on October 14, 2010

You can dress a salad hours in advance and it will keep beautifully if you wait till the last minute to add the salt.
I understand that by writing this I'm assuming that you dress a salad like everyone in Italy or France does: Olive oil, Vinegar or Lemon Juice, pepper and salt. Also, by salad I understand a mix of lettuce(s), cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, olives, onions...
Anyway, I imagine your definition of salad could be very different, and in this regard the only thing that comes to mind is cucumber and yogurt "salad", which is very nice even the day after.
posted by uauage at 11:56 AM on October 14, 2010

I prefer my Greek salad has some time to "soak".
posted by mendel at 11:57 AM on October 14, 2010

Best answer: Combine sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and scallions. Dress with sour cream. Salt to taste. This gets way better the longer it sits (the juices of the tomatoes integrate with the sour cream and it is just delectable).
posted by litnerd at 11:59 AM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Cucumber and tomato salad is better the next day after dressing. As are most bean salads, carrot salads, bell pepper and tomato salads... I think the only salads that don't keep well when dressed are leafy green salads.
posted by ldthomps at 12:00 PM on October 14, 2010

Best answer: What about slaw? I absolutely love this broccoli slaw, and there are links to many other slaws in that post.
posted by neushoorn at 12:01 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chopped salad, I find, holds up much better already dressed in the fridge. It's basically, just salad, chopped up pretty finely. Epicurious; Giada de Laurentis; LA Times; herbivoracious.

Also, cabbage salads last nicely already dressed in the fridge. You don't have to stick with just cole slaw.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2010

IMHO, GreenBlatt's Deli makes the definitive Cucumber Dill Salad.

The basic recipe is Cucumber chunks, thinly sliced red onion (about a 6x more cuke to onion ratio) vinegar, maybe a little water?, sugar, salt, pepper, tons of fresh chopped dill. Their particular version is MAGIC.

Definitely, this salad gets better after a few hours, and will be good in the frig for 2 days. It stays longer, but the vinegar breaks down the veg too much for my preference after that.

There are hundreds of variations on this recipe via the internets, but you could google for the Greenblatt's recipe, or maybe just ring them up and ask?

PS - anything dressed with a lettuce component will begin wilting within minutes. Previously.
posted by jbenben at 12:07 PM on October 14, 2010

My Thai jicama salad NEEDS some soaking time to get maximally-delicious. Here is the VERY FAST AND LOOSE version of how to make it; you should be tasting and adjusting and sneaking handful of peanuts the entire time:

- Peel one or two good-sized jicamas and slice into matchsticks.
- Slice a red bell pepper into matchsticks.
- Crush up a handful or two of dry-roasted peanuts.
- Optional: shred a package of surimi (Crab Delights and the ilk).

- Mix the following:
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. sriracha
- 1 tsp. fish sauce (nam pla)
- The juice of 1/2 a lime

Dump yer liquid ingredients over yer solid ingredients, stir to combine, toss in the fridge and fugeddabouit it for a day or two. Toss again before serving.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:07 PM on October 14, 2010 [10 favorites]

A perfectly addictive simple salad a friend introduced me to this summer: Slice 2 fresh cucumbers, an onion, and 2 large-ish tomatoes. Put these in a bowl. Sprinkle with a packet of ranch dressing powder. A splash (2 tbsp?) of white vinegar. Toss. Cover and refrigerate. Eat it in 15 minutes, or the next day. I love this so much I crave it. Soooo good, flavorful and refreshing.

There's also the midwest potluck favorite 7-Layer Salad. It must sit 2-4 hours or overnight to taste best. I bring a version of this to many many potlucks and always get great comments. Fancy it up with extra layers of unexpected things like artichoke hearts, bacon, chopped raw broccoli, etc. or make your own creamy dressings. I don't care for the sweet "miracle whip" base in most recipes so I usually mix 1 part mayo to 1 part something like ranch or caesar or green Goddess & add extra spices. The key is it should be thick so it doesn't make the salad too goopy. This makes great next day leftovers too.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 12:10 PM on October 14, 2010

Lettuce is weak and becomes a soggy mess soon after being dressed. Kale, spinach and chard are tough leaves, so they do well sitting in a bed of acid (such as is found in a salad dressing) which breaks the leaves down slowly, over several hours.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 PM on October 14, 2010

Broccoli Slaw

Made with a brown sugar vinaigrette. At first it's super crunchy, it's best the morning after. Three days out, it's too soggy.
posted by politikitty at 12:24 PM on October 14, 2010

My family has been making a version of the 7-layer salad mentioned above for as long as I can remember - we just use lettuce, cauliflower, bacon and onion. The dressing is a mixture of mayo or miracle whip, grated parmesan, and sugar. With the dressing on top it will stay crisp for several days, but won't keep once you toss it together. For smaller portions you can just split the batch into multiple containers, as long as you have enough dressing to seal across the top. I've even made individual servings before. Like cuddles said, you can add whatever interesting stuff you want. I just know it has always been a hit.
posted by thejanna at 12:25 PM on October 14, 2010

Response by poster: Would you cook the kale and chard first, or if you left them in dressing long enough would the acids "cook" them? I find that baby spinach gets soggy as quickly as lettuce, maybe quicker than some varieties of lettuce (romaine, e.g.), but I haven't had all-grown-up spinach in a while.
posted by palliser at 12:28 PM on October 14, 2010

Kale absolutely can stand up to soaking. I make a kale, pecorino and walnut salad with walnut oil and sherry vinegar that is great. Can sub shredded brussel sprouts or savoy cabbage as well.
posted by JPD at 12:30 PM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

ETA : Raw not cooked
posted by JPD at 12:30 PM on October 14, 2010

Best answer: You leave the kale raw, and acids will indeed "cook" it if you do it right. Here's my basic recipe:

1. Chiffonade a bunch of kale (chard also works)
2. Add dressing of your choice. Something a little tart works best -- I usually just improvise a vinaigrette. Make sure you include salt to taste.
3. "Massage" it a bit to coat each piece and tenderize the greens a bit. A couple of minutes is plenty.
4. Add sturdy ingredients of choice (dried fruit, seeds, nuts, etc)
5. Let it sit in the fridge anywhere from 3 hours to several days.

Result: tender, tasty kale with much of the bitterness gone. Letting it sit for longer is actually better in this case. You can find plenty of variations if you search for "Massaged Kale Salad" (1, 2, 3).
posted by ourobouros at 12:38 PM on October 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Vinegar and salt aren't the problem with greens - it's the oil that destroys the leaves.

That said, this mustard seed cabbage salad recipe I've posted before is delicious (and cheap!) and is fine "marinating" after you make it.
posted by O9scar at 12:39 PM on October 14, 2010

This hot slaw is morphs through several delicious textures and flavors once its made. If it sticks around that long - I really love it when it is freshly made and the cabbage is still super crunchy.
posted by janell at 1:44 PM on October 14, 2010

This spicy beet and carrot slaw is better the second day than the first, and has lasted up to 4 days and still tasted good (might have been good even after that, but I'd finished it off).

Despite the claims of the recipe writer, it is not, in fact, "SPICY!!!"; it's "hm, spicy" at best (IMO). I'd suggest boosting the cayenne and using smoked paprika instead of plain.
posted by Lexica at 1:45 PM on October 14, 2010

Best answer: My stepmom makes a fantastic salad with quick-blanched green beans, tomato wedges, and sliced red onion dressed with vinaigrette. It is best on the second day.

Roasted beet salads also get steadily better as a function of time: I can't point you to any specific recipes because I don't use recipes, but I like to mix cubed roasted beets and thinly sliced carrots with a sherry vinegar and mustard-flavored vinaigrette and let it sit for a day or two. Also, there is a delicious roasted beet and fennel salad recipe in Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" which is good for at least one day after preparation -- I think it has a mint and yogurt dressing, but I can't remember anymore...
posted by kataclysm at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2010

Pickled beets. Canned, steamed or roasted beets and a vinegary dressing.
Sweet/sour red cabbage, cooked, shredded red cabbage. Add brown sugar & cider vinegar to taste; recipes vary wildly. Bacon & bacon fat a tasty addition
Greek salad: cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta and greek black olives, dress with olive oil & some oregano. serve w/ bread.
Shredded cabbage and any spicy, fairly thick dressing. I like peanut sauce or the spicy miso dressing from whole foods.
Carrot salad. I leave out the raisins.
posted by theora55 at 2:39 PM on October 14, 2010

Carrot salad with harissa, feta, and mint - This one gets even better as it marinates in the fridge, and I eat leftovers for lunch for days with a hardboiled egg or two added in for protein.
posted by Eshkol at 5:02 PM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Any shredded/sliced/chopped salad should improve with time. My chow recipe tastes great even after a few days in the fridge.

The linked version has beans and grain added, but you can use just a little of each or leave them out entirely. It's still quite veggie-intense either way. The version I'm making tonight includes sweet peppers, green onions, shredded carrots, tomatoes, sliced baby spinach, and a little quinoa, plus lots of lime juice, olive oil, and some cumin and hot paprika.
posted by maudlin at 7:03 PM on October 14, 2010

This grated carrot salad with avocado is delicious and easily modifiable, and actually gets better if you leave it in the fridge for a while.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:15 PM on October 14, 2010

Best answer: This Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad, which I can't stop linking to, is better the next day. (I use a bit less olive oil and a bit less garlic.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:36 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oh yes, that broc salad is great. I've made it several times.
posted by maudlin at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2010

Keep this in mind for summer time:

Blanch 2 big handfulls of green beans in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. You want them to be very crisp still, almost raw really. Slice a pint of cherry tomatoes in half. In a small jar combine a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (to taste), a minced shallot, and a pinch or two of salt. Shake the jar to emulsify the dressing easily. Toss everything with a small stack of chiffonaded basil. The beans might discolor in a day or two, but are even more tasty.
posted by fontophilic at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, on closer reading, what kataclysm said.
posted by fontophilic at 9:55 AM on October 15, 2010

A simple package of shredded carrot dressed with vinaigrette and left to sit for a few hours is really delicious. I was surprised at how good, without a lot of other stuff in there. Standard bistrot fare is always a winner.

Shredded cabbage always improves sitting in vinaigrette.

And if you slick a pan with mustard oil, add a handful of yellow mustard seeds, toss shredded cabbage in the hot oil briefly and then dump on a ton of lemon juice to cool and wilt the cabbage, well, you have a little bit of heaven that lasts many hours.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2010

Also, cucumbers sliced and left in a colander with a bunch of salt for a few hours, then rinsed and dressed with vinaigrette will rock your world if you've never tried them that way.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:42 AM on October 15, 2010

Carrot salad with harissa. Oh my goodness, it's fantastic. Not your usual shredded carrots/raisin salad. Heavenly.
posted by ms.v. at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2010

As mentioned above, there are a lot of good recipies for broccoli slaw/salad. Yummmmmmm.
posted by radioamy at 10:29 PM on October 16, 2010

I tried the massaged kale, and it worked beautifully for chewy but not tough kale, with little bitterness. I loved kale and am delighted to have new ways to serve it.
posted by theora55 at 5:05 AM on October 17, 2010

Response by poster: That sesame-garlic broccoli is dynamite. I made it earlier this evening and am having to restrain myself from gobbling the rest of it up so that I can see how it fares overnight as well.

Tried grated carrots in miso-ginger dressing over the weekend -- took on a bitterness overnight, though they did fine for a couple of hours.
posted by palliser at 6:30 PM on October 17, 2010

Response by poster: So I've tried a bunch of these by now, and there are some really great recipes here! The broccoli slaw from smitten kitchen was delicious and developed beautifully overnight. Massaged kale is great, too; I preferred a plain old vinaigrette and some nuts to the sweeter versions linked, but both were good. I also liked the green bean/tomato/red onion salad; the green beans got very sweet in the dressing overnight.

But the sesame-garlic broccoli takes the prize. I would eat it here or there, I would eat it anywhere. Thanks again, everyone!
posted by palliser at 7:02 PM on December 13, 2010

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