Hit me with your best snack salad.
October 1, 2015 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I am on a quest to find recipes for things that are somewhat "salads" but that can function as a refrigerated snack that lasts for a few days after preparation. I don't know if there's a better term for this than "snack salads," but that's the purpose it would serve for me.

My goal here is to be able to think "I am hungry, but I don't want to eat a meal yet, and I don't want junk food nor something like yogurt nor a few slices of cheese nor beef jerky nor hummus nor chips & salsa, etc" and then open my fridge and find a big container of this wholesome salad-type stuff that I can scoop into a bowl and eat and then feel pretty good about it.

It needs to be able to survive well in the fridge for at least three days with the dressing already on it.

It need not be purely vegetables, although it can be. I welcome ingredients like cheese, meat (tuna or chicken), hard-boiled egg, grains (quinoa's good, millet's good, bulgur's good, probably some other stuff is also good), beans, and so on.

What would you make if you wanted something like this?
posted by bananana to Food & Drink (39 answers total) 189 users marked this as a favorite
I have the following in my fridge most of the time. You don't want to dress lettuce-y greens ahead of time but assembly takes two seconds.

- Hard-boiled egg whites pre-chopped up (I give my dog the golden orbs inside)
- Tomatoes diced and marinating in balsamic vinegar (remove the seeds and watery part and the tomatoes stay happy for days)
- Cukes sliced and peppered, soaking up delicious rice vinegar
- Chopped up walnuts (mmm [food for] brains)
- Pre-rinsed greens - and this is key - already nestled in the bed of the salad-delivery-container.
- Leftover roasted veges
- Pre-cooked tofu cubes

I cook about once a week and I eat variations of the above 5 days out of 7.
posted by headnsouth at 2:09 PM on October 1, 2015 [25 favorites]

There are so many grain-based salads in Ancient Grains for Modern Meals that are perfect for this. I've made probably 80% of the salads in the book and they're all delicious, even after a few days in the refrigerator.

I also make a kale salad that keeps well for a few days: raw kale, toss with caramelized onions and golden raisins (I also like to add slivered radishes, if they're in season, and toasted pine nuts if I have them on hand), and a honey balsamic vinaigrette. Toss it about 20 mins before you want to eat it, so the kale wilts slightly. The kale will continue to wilt over the 2-3 days in the fridge, but will still maintain a crunch since it's such a robust veg.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:13 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Cole slaw:

thinly sliced/chopped cabbage, carrots, walnuts, raisins, onions, apples... Endless varieties.. All tossed in a dressing of olive oil, vinegar, and salt. You can also add the spices from a packet of ramen to the dressing or you could add sugar... Crush the dry ramen with your hands into the cole slaw and that adds a nice crunch (at least for the first day).

This basic salad can also be made with kale as the base instead of cabbage. You should de-rib the kale and scrunch it up really well before chopping into little pieces. Lemon or lime juice is a good addition to the standard olive oil/vinegar dressing in the kale scenario.
posted by la_rousse at 2:13 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by memento maury at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2015

Apple salad (based on waldorf salad) Cut up apples, celery, walnuts, topped with plain yogurt, dash of cinnamon. Keeps well.

Potato salad - gazillions of options.

Coleslaw - cabbage is tasty and healthy and cheap. My fave dressings are Traders Joe's goddess dressing or sesame/'Asian' dressing.

Tabouleh - Bulgar wheat, lemon, parsley, mint. Add tomatoes and cukes when serving - they get ooky if left in, I think.

Pasta salad - pasta with any choice of broccoli, cauliflower, olives, onion, peas, shredded carrot, cucumbers, tomatoes (see above ooky warning), zucchini, chopped kale or spinach. Ranch, vinaigrette, mayonnaise-based dressing or any other dressing.

I've been making carrot salad - shredded carrots with walnuts, topped with hummus.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kale holds up very well dressed (and actually sort of breaks down a little, not too much, and is easier to eat I think). I've done this with this kale salad with dates, parmesan and almonds and this admittedly more-complicated salad in which I substitute kale for the more tender green the recipe calls for.
posted by mchorn at 2:20 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Something like this:

cubed roasted eggplant
cubed feta
drained chickpeas
olives, maybe

Eggplant can be substituted for other veggies. Lots of dressings would work.
posted by bunderful at 2:21 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I find seaweed salad is perfect for this, especially since it's very satisfying to chew so it hits the "I want to be eating something right now" buttons without being too filling for a snack. I've never tried to make it myself, but there are tons of recipes online under "seaweed salad" or "wakame salad."
posted by babelfish at 2:24 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

You don't think this is going to be good but it's very good and tastes even better the second day.

4 carrots (or double seems to work fine too)
1/3 C. salted peanuts (I like cocktail)
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T peanut oil
few drops of sesame oil

Mix. Eat.
posted by jessamyn at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2015 [22 favorites]

I've been achieving this lately by getting into making Korean side dishes, aka banchan. Basically if there is a vegetable you can imagine, Korea has dressed it in some combination of sesame oil, chili paste, bean paste and garlic+ginger to serve alongside any meal or be enjoyed on its own. Maangchi is my go-to resource for recipes on this and every other Korean food question.

My favourites are:

- Soy bean sprout side dish
- Spicy cucumber side dish
- Steamed eggplant side dish
- Steamed shishito peppers side dish

Once you have the requisite seasonings on hand they are all quite quick to prepare and keep for days in the fridge. Sometimes if I'm lazy I'll just steam rice and pick at a variety of them and call it dinner.
posted by kaspen at 2:38 PM on October 1, 2015 [7 favorites]

Go search for Mason Jar Salads. Get yourself to the thrift store and buy as many as you can find, they are usually about 25 cents or so. Make up a big batch, stick them in the fridge, pull one out when you need a snack.
posted by raisingsand at 2:40 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Spicy Southwestern Salad with Avocado Dressing

I made a bowl of this for a party on Saturday and what was left was my lunch on Tuesday. Tasty, easy to modify, and you can throw in the fridge and snack on for 3-4 days.
posted by lepus at 2:45 PM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I love Emerald City Salad. I buy it pre-made at the supermarket. But the recipe looks easy.

Shredded raw beets!! Messy to peel and shred. Sweet, earthy, and so nutritious. Freshly shredded is miles better than stored. Mix with shredded carrots.

If you can find good kholrabi, peel and shred the bulbs. Delicious in a salad.

+1 cole slaw. I make my own.

I really like this container for washed and chopped veggies. This is for veggies without dressing. They keep a lot longer.

[Not a salad] I love homemade mashed potatoes for a snack. Also, mashed sweet potatoes.
posted by valannc at 3:02 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Pasta salad. There are times when I damn-near live off of it. Pasta, cubed cheese, whatever vegetables you like (I like carrots, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, bell peppers). My wife makes a basil vinaigrette that's perfect for it.
posted by adamrice at 3:15 PM on October 1, 2015

Seconding Emerald City Salad and slaws. I make ECS regularly and I've simplified the recipe: It's still great if you leave out the fennel and parsley and the bell pepper. Also works with kale in place of chard or other grains or less grains. The dressing and relative ratios of veg are key.
posted by purple_bird at 3:16 PM on October 1, 2015

I made a really good salad this summer that had quinoa (cooked with vegetable broth & cumin), cubed sweet potatoes, black beans, chopped bell pepper, corn, and a honey-lime dressing.

My other favorite is broccoli slaw with a peanut sauce on it, either homemade or a bottled dressing. Add some cocktail peanuts just before serving for extra crunch.
posted by belladonna at 3:22 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

AUUUGHH TEXAS CAVIAR. Black eyed peas, corn, bell pepper, scallions, a garlicky red wine vinaigrette (or bottled Eye-talian dressing). JalapeƱo (I like pickled ones) and cilantro. Make it fancy with grilled corn or make it out of cans. Eat on greens or scooped up with tortilla chips or with a spoon standing in front of the fridge.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:45 PM on October 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Kinpira is good for this. I really like this Radicchio Radish salad (it lasts nearly a week without getting gross or sad) and this farro salad.

Quinoa holds up well in the fridge, too, and plays well with dried fruit and nuts, chopped veggies, or something like feta cheese and olives.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:01 PM on October 1, 2015

Melissa Clark's Sesame-cured broccoli is magic for this. The broccoli is raw but the dressing takes the edge off without a trace of sogginess. The combination of garlic, cumin seeds, and sesame oil just works. I'd link but I'm on a phone. Google it. You won't be sorry.
posted by libraryhead at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Ooooo I am going to have to take some time reading through this thread!

I like this tomato onion recipe from cooking light. (Scroll down a little. I don't know how to make the page start at the right place.) I don't like bleu cheese so I omit or replace with mozzarella, goat, feta, whatever. Three days is probably just about its limit. And bonus, the dressing is super easy and simple and can be used on just about anything else you want!
posted by sillysally at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2015

I have made many of the variations of this "create your own recipe" grain salad, and all have been delicious!
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Roasted red peppers with capers and mozzarella. The peppers can just sit in their marinade in the fridge, and then you add a few mozzarella balls when you're ready to eat. Seriously, I would rather eat a bowl of this stuff than any chips or fries in the world.
posted by ostro at 4:37 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I adore this broccoli slaw, with cider vinaigrette rather than mayo. Day two and three are actually better than day one.
posted by politikitty at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2015

Oh, and roasted asparagus (with plenty of garlic). I think I actually like it better cold than fresh out of the oven.
posted by ostro at 4:47 PM on October 1, 2015

Cook a few slices of bacon. Save the bacon fat, let the slices drain on paper towels.
Cut up broccoli (and optional cauliflower) into teeny florets. Peel stem and dice small or do thin slices. Gather everything including all the little bits that have escaped into container.
Grapes, halved if large and whole if small. Red is prettier with the broccoli but whatever is good.
Mince a wedge of red onion, not very much.
Crumble the bacon slices.
Combine everything except the bacon fat. If it has cooled, zap it in the microwave to make it hot and liquidy again. Spoon some onto the salad and mix.
Sprinkle on some mild vinegar like apple cider, champagne, sherry, or red wine. Toss everything and taste.
Depending on the saltiness of your bacon fat and the bitterness of your broccoli, add salt to taste, and possibly more bacon fat until the salad is nicely coated but not dripping.

Keeps for a while, especially if your grapes are whole, is friendly to add-ins like beans or carrots or garlic, tastes like you are eating bacon even though one serving probably has like half a slice.
posted by Mizu at 6:15 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I know this totally doesn't count as a "salad" at all, but what about just a whole container of small fruit, e.g. strawberries or grapes? I mean, as someone who HATES cooking and any type of food preparation with a passion, that's the direction I'd be heading in for "healthy snack."
posted by Delia at 6:19 PM on October 1, 2015

I make a quinoa salad based upon this recipe. I use the tri-colour quinoa from Trader Joe's, garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, olive instead of vegetable oil, and I add a metric arse-load of red pepper flakes and quite a bit of Topatio hot sauce. It lasts for about a week in a fridge and is great with a fried egg, cooked chicken breast, or by itself. Add salsa before you eat if you're feeling fancy.
posted by sacrifix at 7:12 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love this kind of salad. I make a cabbage salad that I eat all summer--shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, shredded broccoli or broccoli slaw mix, edamame, cucumber, thin-sliced peppers, maybe zucchini--really, whatever veggies are around. For dressing, I mix soy sauce, chili, garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar, and rice vinegar to taste, then dump it over top. It keeps for days. Sometimes I'll add chopped strawberries (which keep less well) or mandarin orange slices to it.

Mix equal parts of corn and black beans, or corn and black beans and rice. Add some chopped peppers, hot or sweet. Make a dressing of lime juice, cumin, cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and cilantro. I like avocado, too, usually added at the last moment, but sometimes just pureed into the dressing, which should be lime-y enough to prevent too much browning.

Chopped cucumbers, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, feta, kalamata olives, and couscous or quinoa. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, sesame seeds, oregano, and maybe some sumac.

Mix together butter beans, crumbled feta, some very finely chopped onion, and capers. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice and sumac. (I really like sumac.) I can eat huge quantities of this--it's dead easy to make and tastes amazing.
posted by MeghanC at 7:24 PM on October 1, 2015 [14 favorites]

I've been trying to make big-batch salads on Monday that will last until Friday, so that I can bring them into work each day for lunch. My favorites that were still sturdy on Friday:

Curried chickpea salad. It needed more salt, but lasted very nicely.

Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing. I cut out the sugar and halved the honey, and added rotisserie chicken. The chicken dried out over the course of the week, though that was partly because it was already dry. For a snack, maybe skip the chicken. If you buy coleslaw mix with carrots rather than chopping cabbage and carrots, it saves a LOT of time and effort.

Summer Greek Quinoa Salad. I added canned chickpeas. I get confused by maple syrup in such recipes but I did this one as written, other than adding the chickpeas, and it was really good.

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad with Ginger-Peanut Dressing. I like to throw in some edamame and sliced broccoli florets in the last few minutes with the noodles, then add the blanched veggies to the rest of the salad.

Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken. Again, the honey seemed weird to me, but the salad worked pretty well.
posted by jaguar at 8:19 PM on October 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also, I have discovered that cabbage is the only "green" that I can dress on Monday and it will be ok on Friday, but it will be a bit sad on Friday. Grain-based and bean-based salads seem to be much happier living in the fridge with dressing for more than a few days.
posted by jaguar at 8:23 PM on October 1, 2015

Some variation on black bean and corn salad (it's pretty flexible). Black beans, kidney beans, thawed frozen corn, diced tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, cubed avocado, chopped cilantro. Toss ingredients in a lemon vinaigrette (look up recipes or just whisk together olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh squeezed lemon juice). The only ingredient that may not last is the avocado, so maybe add that to each serving as you are about to consume. You can also toss a scoop full of this mixture over greens for some extra nutritional goodness.
posted by JenMarie at 9:26 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I make slaws and eat them like this. My favorite is a spicy-sweet pineapple slaw. I use broccoli slaw and purple cabbage, plus diced pineapple. The dressing is mayo, brown sugar, sriracha, apple cider vinegar and a little milk or water to thin it out. Takes 5 minutes to throw together, holds up in the fridge for up to 5 days (if you don't eat it all first :) Also awesome on pulled pork sandwiches or as a side for grilled meats! PM me if you want exact measurements.
posted by geeky at 6:00 AM on October 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding the recommendations for massaged kale as your base. They'll last all week and you can add all sorts of protein/extra veggies. The key is thoroughly massaging the kale (with just oil and salt) before adding the dressing. The two kale-based salads I make most frequently are:

1) A very flexible Asian-y version with sesame oil/soy/rice vinegar where the base is Napa cabbage and kale. Recipe here: https://sites.google.com/site/wintersaladrecipe/

2) A sort of "fall salad" with a kale and farro base, topped with roasted butternut squash and beets, sliced apples, and a pomegranate dressing. This one is *amazing*. Recipe here: http://movering.svbtle.com/salad-annals-kale-and-farro-salad-with-butternut-squash-and-pomegranate-dressing
posted by ethorson at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2015

I often make a very simplified version of this lettuce-free greek salad from smitten kitchen.

This is how I make it:
- One package of those small persian cucumbers (contains about 12)
- 6 red bell peppers
- so many pitted kalamata olives. About a pint and a half.
- 1 red onion

Chop everything up and add olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste. There should be enough olives that you don't need salt. The flavor of the salad even improves after a day of marinating in the fridge, and it keeps well for at least four days. You might notice that my version does not include the cheese, and that is on purpose. It doesn't keep well with the cheese on it, so I use a lot of olives instead to replace the missing fat and salt.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 3:09 PM on October 2, 2015

This eggplant salad is amazing. Double the recipe, ignore their cook times and do ~20 minutes at 500F, skip the almonds and pad it out by serving over brown rice, like a rice salad. It's good cold or warm.
posted by bugperson at 4:43 PM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love shredded cabbage, lots of garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It's delicious and instantly awesome as a side dish or a snack salad.
posted by yueliang at 11:25 PM on October 3, 2015

Israeli /Arab salad is my go to for a snack that gets better in the fridge. It is, at its most simple, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions dressed in lemon and olive oil but it can include ...almost anything. The trick is to chop everything very fine, use high quality vegetables, and a really good, fragrant olive oil. After that the mixture possibilities are endless - you can do fresh mint or dried pepper -- I like a dill variant that's larger chunks of cucumber, rough chopped red onion, and lots and lots of chopped dill.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: WOW - thank you all for all the amazing suggestions! There is more here than I could've possibly imagined. I will try a bunch of them over time. Thank you thank you thank you.
posted by bananana at 1:07 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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