Leafy green salads that stay fresh for several days?
November 5, 2019 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Please share tips, techniques, and favorite recipes for salads that contain leafy greens and will keep in the fridge for more than two days.

I'm enjoying eating a lot of salads, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the best way to get lots of leafy greens in there without things getting wilted and sad. If you make salads with leafy greens and keep them in your refrigerator for at least two days, please let me know what's worked well for you to keep things as fresh and crisp as possible.

My goals are:
* having lots of leafy greens
* keeping prep time to a minimum and doing as much in advance as possible

(I am aware that a kale salad keeps for ages; I'm more looking for things with spinach, chard, romaine, and other lettuces.)

Specific techniques, ingredients, and recipes are all greatly appreciated.

posted by kristi to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I keep prepped ingredients in separate containers in the fridge until I'm ready to serve. Then I assemble and dress and I'm done. Leafy greens do best for me when I've washed and trimmed them (if needed), spun them dry, and then placed them to be stored in a paper-towel lined, sealed container.

Salads that have been assembled and then stored always do poorly for me. The textures of many things get worse and enough water comes out of the veggies to make it a wilty, soupy affair.
posted by quince at 8:20 AM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah, this is exactly the reason I love chopping up cabbage into slaw-like salads. I haven't found a good trick to lengthening the life of greens in the fridge, but I'd second what quince said about not prepping in advance; as soon as you add any vinegar sauce the leaves are gonna start to break down. I sometimes can get more life back into partially wilted greens if I immerse them in ice water, which usefully doubles as a way to rinse them off.
posted by saramour at 8:26 AM on November 5, 2019

This Rubbermaid Produce Keeper really works. I was dubious when Dr. Advicepig bought me one, but prepared greens last significantly longer in them, like a week or two. It won't worked on dressed salad, but I just pack the dressing in a small jar. Of course, the drier your greens are when they go in, the longer they last.
posted by advicepig at 8:31 AM on November 5, 2019

You need salad-in-a-jar! The idea is that you put dressing and heavy items at the bottom and then leafy stuff at the top so they're not soaking in dressing until you shake the salad up.
posted by EmilyFlew at 8:33 AM on November 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

Arugula, spinach, and kale stay good longer in the fridge than most lettuce. And seconding keeping the greens separate.
posted by Candleman at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Storing salads in layers in a jar with the heavy/wet ingredients at the bottom and greens on top is the way to go. I could prep a whole week's worth of salads at once and still fresh on day 4 or 5. Definitely helps to have a salad spinner for after you wash the lettuce.

For just storing greens by themselves, wash, spin, and put in a rubbermaid bin lined/layered with paper towels and you can get 1-2 weeks out of greens that way, depending on the type. Dry but not too dry + cold + not crushed or bruised will help you get the most out of your greens.
posted by misskaz at 8:46 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

We make this Kale and Quinoa salad and it lasts for a couple of days.
posted by girlpublisher at 8:55 AM on November 5, 2019

I wash whole deconstructed heads of lettuce, spinach, etc. in a big OXO salad spinner, drain, spin the hell out of it, spin it again, and then toss it with my hands and spin it one more time. Then store the whole salad spinner in the fridge (greens in the basket) with the lid on. The key is spinning the greens dry, and then storing them, with a lid, in the basket. The basket keeps the greens off the bottom of the bowl, and the lid keeps the moisture level constant. Keeps greens for at least a week but usually they're gone sooner than that.
posted by niicholas at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Salad in a jar! I prep a week's worth of salads on Sunday night and the greens are still fine Friday at lunchtime.

Put some dressing in the bottom of a jar. Into this, put veggies that can withstand time in dressing -- anything you can put in a marinated vegetable salad or pickle -- peppers, cucumber, etc. Then anything else that has a high water content, like tomatoes. Then anything that should stay dry; nuts, meats, cheeses. Then the greens. I wash and spin the greens (usually romaine) - I usually spin them a couple of times.

I set up an assembly line of sorts; I do 6 salads (three each for myself and my wife) and prep the veggies in quantity -- I chop an entire cucumber, then decide to put a lot in salad A, a little in B and none in C. So on; each salad has a different mix of veggies and a different dressing, so it feels like I'm mixing it up. It takes me about an hour to do the six salads.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

niicholas's method also works for us when I'm willing to keep the whole salad spinner in the fridge. I think the key to it and the produce keeper I linked above is that they aren't perfectly sealed tight and that the greens don't sit on the bottom.
posted by advicepig at 9:49 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Vidalia Chop Wizard is a life-changer.

Stick a cucumber in there. Slam the lid down. KABAM. Enough chopped cucumber for the week.
Stick a few red or green papers in there. Slam the lid down. KABAM.
A few hard boiled peeled eggs. Slam the lid down. KABAM.

Assembly line salad making time just cut in half.

You're welcome.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:02 AM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yes yes, keep the greens in the salad spinner. They last for A WHOLE FRICKIN MONTH in there, it's amazing.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 12:17 PM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

If parsley counts, how about tabouleh? The bulgar means it can last fully dressed for several days.
posted by estelahe at 6:10 PM on November 5, 2019

These are all great answers, but I am especially intrigued by the salad in a jar approach, even if I end up not using it quite exactly that way - seems like I could make a smaller non-leafy salad with cucumbers and carrots and peppers and dressing, and then toss some portion of that around with a bunch of pre-washed greens when I'm ready to eat.

Thanks very much for all the answers - this is all most helpful!
posted by kristi at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2019

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