Salads for the reluctant chef
December 6, 2011 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm in search of no-prep salad recipes that involve spinach or baby greens as the base ingredient.

Giant Eagle sells these 1lb bins of baby greens. Yay! Salad greens I'm not too lazy to use! However, I live alone, and they go bad in less than a week. So, if I want to eat any salad, I need to eat lots of salad. I'm also entirely uninterested in doing prep work for salads.

Currently, I make exactly one salad:
greens, raspberry vinaigrette, dried cranberries, blue cheese, walnuts.

Please help me to find other equally-easy combinations of ingredients. I have no dietary restrictions, and am not a picky eater. I'm just lazy, and not very imaganitive when it comes to cooking. I need combinations, not just possible ingredients.

I like these verbs:
drain, rinse, pour, scoop, sprinkle

And run away from these:
chop, peel, slice, shred, mince, dice, grate, roast, blanch, sautee

I have looked through a lot of the previous salad threads, but none of them had the same emphasis on minimizing any prep time.
posted by Metasyntactic to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Take your salad greens, put a little balsamic and several times that olive oil on your greens. add salt.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

baby spinach, carrots, chevre, pumpkin seeds.
posted by entropone at 5:27 PM on December 6, 2011

You can buy pre-sliced chicken/turkey/beef strips in the deli meat case. Also, pre-cooked frozen shrimp can be defrosted by running them under cold water in a strainer for about 5 minutes. Canned black beans and chickpeas are awesome in salad, and all you have to do is pour into a strainer and rinse. Those french-fried onions that people only buy at Thanksgiving to make green bean casserole are delicious with greens. My grocery store sells bagged shredded carrots and pre-sliced mushrooms in the same refrigerator case as the salad greens. Also, apple slices, grapes, and other fruit.

Really, anything that is delicious is equally delicious, if not more so, in a salad. Dump stuff in a big bowl until you find a combination you don't like.
posted by decathecting at 5:28 PM on December 6, 2011

Canned artichoke hearts. Olives. Olives and feta in containers or jars so you don't even need to slice it! Cherry toms and baby mozzarella balls. Grilled egglpant. Sunflower seeds. Pine nuts. Pre-sliced milano salami with sun-dried tomatoes. Oooh, ooh one of my favorites: hummous used as salad dressing. Heap it in with your oil and vinegar and pretty much any of the above and it's a very yummy Greek salad... thing.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:28 PM on December 6, 2011

Mushrooms that come already sliced. Other cheeses, feta, shredded any other kind. Do you eat meat? If you do take a slice of whatever deli meat you like and roll it up, slice, takes about 2 seconds. Try other kinds of nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, even peanuts. Hard boiled eggs are good , canned fish.
posted by mareli at 5:29 PM on December 6, 2011

Well, there's always the pre-prepped route. I'm extremely fond of my (terribly American) "Asian Salad" from my University days. It involves greens, shredded carrots from a bag, whole snow peas, edamame (from a bag of frozen shelled edamame), and purchased Miso Dressing. Sometimes when I was feeling fancy I would hack open an avocado and scoop the whole thing into the salad and mush it around (or mush it into the dressing). Occasionally pre-chopped raw mushrooms would make their way in there too, if I'd bought a bag of them and neglected to cook them.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 5:30 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Something to consider - if you have a food processer you can use the chop attachment to chop a bunch of peppers, carrots, and mushrooms once each week. put 'em in a thing in your fridge. sprinkle that over your greens. add cheese, seeds, and dried fruit. yum.
posted by entropone at 5:30 PM on December 6, 2011

I get a roasted chicken from the grocery store and just pull off a chunk of meat and put it on top of my salad with maybe a handful of cherry tomatoes. Then squirt lemon and drizzle olive oil. I also like this with picked beets from a jar or three bean salad. Tear a hunk off a baguette and done!
posted by Swisstine at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2011

You can buy little tins of corn. You just open the can, drain, and tip into the salad.

I know you said no chopping, but cutting up an apple is reasonably low effort and goes excellent in you example above with cheese and walnuts.

Similarly for fresh green beans - just rinse, then chop into 1cm (~0.5") long pieces.
posted by trialex at 5:32 PM on December 6, 2011

Canned tuna or salmon.
posted by rtha at 5:32 PM on December 6, 2011

Oh, and if you eat with some nice bread and butter you've got a real meal!
posted by mareli at 5:32 PM on December 6, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions so far! I'd like to emphasize that I really want combinations of ingredients for a single salad, on top of lists of things to buy ... I know that I should mix and match and experiment, but when given the chance, I don't
posted by Metasyntactic at 5:33 PM on December 6, 2011

my go-to lazyface salad is canned chickpeas, feta, prepackaged broccoli and cauliflower (lazy), and kalamata olives from the olive bar. sometimes instead of the chickpeas, i'll go with a scoop of hummus.
posted by kerning at 5:36 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you opposed to whisking? Hard boil an egg or two and put the yolks in with that dressing you already make. If you will not chop, tear the whites apart with your hands and throw them in the salad.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:38 PM on December 6, 2011

- Clementine sections, sliced almonds, citrus vinaigrette. Add grilled or roast chicken to make it a meal.
- Chevre crumbles, almonds, (pre)sliced bell peppers, balsamic. Same deal with the chicken.
- Avocado, corn, crumbled tortilla chips, "Southwestern" dressing.
posted by charmcityblues at 5:42 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like some corn, black beans, shredded cheese, and lime juice. Crumble some tortilla chips if you like, add some chicken if you like (get one of those rotisserie ones from the market).
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Add these things to the salad you already make:

grape tomatoes + candied walnuts + drained sliced beets

drained chick peas + drained tuna
posted by at 5:51 PM on December 6, 2011

Is peeling a tiny orange, like a mandarin or (my favorite) a clementine too much work? These little oranges peel quickly and cleanly in less than 30 seconds. They work great with slivered almonds; blue, feta, or goat cheese; and a vinaigrette (balsamic or raspberry is good).

They sell dried blueberries near the craisins and raisins. These would go well with a mild cheese and some kind of seed or nut.

Avacoda actually works great as a dressing alone if you mush it up a bit before stirring it into the greens. Throw on some nuts and a but of salt and you're good to go.
posted by dchrssyr at 5:54 PM on December 6, 2011

My family salad:

Ham. I go to the deli and have them slice it really thick, you'll probably only need one or two slices. Then I get home and cube it.

Canned beans. We like Red Kidney beans and Garbanzo beans (chickpeas.) Drain the juices.

Sunflower seeds. (Shelled, of course.)

Your choice of dressing. We usually have Ranch and Thousand Island. Poppy Seed and Vidalia Onion are also good.

I also like to add hard boiled egg pieces and raw peas.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:55 PM on December 6, 2011

opps. a bit of salt, not a but of salt. I don't even know what that means.
posted by dchrssyr at 5:56 PM on December 6, 2011

a few I've done"

greens, (thawed, previously frozen, pre-sliced) strawberries, raspberry vin., feta, walnuts

greens, mandarin oranges, flaked imitation crab meat, sweet balsamic vin or lime juice (you can mush in a bit of avocado too)

greens, cherry/grape or diced tomatoes, canned quartered artichoke, goat cheese

greens, canned garbanzo, feta or goat cheese, diced or cherry grape tomatoes, olive oil

other things you can add: sunflower seeds, almonds, dried fruit.

--and switch up your dressings. switch up your greens once in a while, too - get some that you can cook with so that you're not just eating salad after salad
posted by sm1tten at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2011

This wasabi dressing is expensive, but I would happily eat cardboard dressed in it. It is awesome over spinach with sliced almonds sprinkled over all.
posted by rosa at 6:09 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Spinach, feta, black olives from a can, grape tomatoes, whatever vinaigrette you have in the fridge. Bam, 30 seconds and done.
posted by auto-correct at 6:19 PM on December 6, 2011

these are what I love in salads:

heart of palm
beans(cannellini especially)
artichoke hearts
roasted red peppers
fresh mozerella

except for the avocado and beets all these can be found sliced in cans or jars at the store.

My standard dressing is balsamic, splash of rice vinegar + olive oil. (garlic, pepper, salt)

(If you like beets---they are easy to prepare- wrap them in tinfoil(individually) throw them in the oven at 400 for 45 min or so(depending on size). when they cool the skin will slide off easily. Slice and keep in the fridge.)
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:22 PM on December 6, 2011

oh oops- you won't find quinoa in a can either-
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:24 PM on December 6, 2011

Spinach, shredded mozzarella (bought shredded, not home shredding), cashews, and your raspberry vinaigrette. Weirdly delicious.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:38 PM on December 6, 2011

Spinach, real bacon bits, shredded mozzarella (or fresh perlini if you feel fancy), grape tomatoes, poppyseed dressing. If you can stomach hard-boiling and slicing an egg, that's good in it too.
posted by KathrynT at 6:43 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not a spinach salad, but a related tip.
I've found that kale (which also comes in big bags, pre-cut) lasts a lot longer in the fridge than spinach or baby greens. So I can get through a whole bag at a more reasonable pace.

One easy kale salad is this:
-Wash and drain several handfuls of the pre-cut kale. Take out any big stalks and discard.
-In a biggish bowl, put the kale and pour over it: olive oil, cider vinegar, a little kosher salt.
-Now knead, crunch and mash the kale with your hands for about 2 minutes. The kale will reduce in volume as if you were cooking it, and it will become tender. (If you want really tender,you can get lacinato/dinosaur/black/cavolo nero kale (all names for the same thing)... that type is much more tender than standard kale, but it doesn't come pre-cut in bags.)
-Then add other ingredients. An apple cut into 1/2 chunks; a handful of raisins; shredded carrots; nuts; snow peas; anything else crunchy and flavorful. You can also add pre-shredded coconut (the unsweetened kind, you can find it in the vegan baking area).
-Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and maybe a little more salt.
-The bonus is that this salad keeps well in the fridge for a couple days, so you can have it more than one night in a row.

You can also make kale chips:
Wash and drain the kale
Coat lightly with oil
Spread on a cookie sheet
Sprinkle with salt (or cayenne, or other spices)
Cook in a 300 degree oven for 20 min or until crisp.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:44 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

An apple cut into 1/2 chunks

that is, 1/2" cubes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:45 PM on December 6, 2011

When I start getting bored with a salad, I find adding pickled jalapeno slices sure perks a tired salad up a treat. (Or if you're *really* not feeling it, also add a squirt of Sriracha into your salad dressing. woohoo!)
posted by smirkette at 8:25 PM on December 6, 2011

I'd stirfry the spinach and then add to scrambled eggs. More protein, less hassle.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:21 PM on December 6, 2011

We eat a ton of salads. Basically everything on this list can be purchased already chopped/sliced/cubed/cooked, etc.
  • Walnuts, apple, blue cheese, bacon, vinaigrette
  • Dried cranberry, turkey, shredded carrots, edamame, sesame seeds, soy sauce, tiny bit of sesame oil, rice vinegar
  • Black beans, canned or frozen corn, pickled jalapenos, roasted peppers, chicken if you want it, and either avocado chunks or guacamole. (Dress with lime juice, cumin, and garlic powder.)
  • Canned mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, shredded broccoli (sold as broccoli slaw mix, often), edamame, sliced bell peppers, tofu cubes if you don't hate tofu, soy-ginger vinaigrette
  • Artichoke hearts, feta, capers, roasted peppers, cucumber, olives, red onion, cherry tomatoes, greek dressing
  • Mushrooms, onions, almonds, bacon, chopped egg, carrots
  • Roasted peppers, mozzarella pearls, black olives, cherry tomatoes
  • Black beans, mango, avocado, sunflower seeds
  • Chicken, grapes, apple, onion, sunflower seeds, walnuts, dressed with salad cream or a yoghurt-based dressing
  • Apple, cranberry, walnut, blue cheese
  • Watermelon (or other melon), basil, walnuts, vinaigrette

posted by MeghanC at 10:30 PM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Toss greens with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice and toss again. Cover in parmesan cheese and add toasted walnuts. (I like this made with kale, but I'm sure it's good with other greens.)
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:48 PM on December 6, 2011

- baby spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, a few slices of cucumber, crumble over some fetta cheese dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar a squeeze of lemon juice. (some cutting involved but not much really)
posted by mary8nne at 1:54 AM on December 7, 2011

Salad Pride is a favorite blog that posts a new salad (with photo) everyday. While not all will meet your requirements, at least some of them will. Found my everyday staple here: greens, apple, pecans, oil + vinegar (lazily I just use Newman's Own dressing from a bottle with that name), and gorgonzola.
posted by Kalatraz at 10:56 AM on December 7, 2011

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