2 hours now, 5 minute salads later?
May 17, 2007 2:54 PM   Subscribe

SaladFilter: Help me find stuff I can prepare ahead of time, preferably won't spoil (/will survive freezing), and I can simply dump on top of mixed greens and create a delicious salad!

I need to eat more salad, for vitamin, rather than low-calorie needs (so cheeses and things are cool). However, my salads all seem to require too much preparation time for too little taste payoff.

Given a significant time investment now, what can I make that would allow the following on a daily (or even twice a day) basis:

12:00pm: Get home.
12:01pm: Take mixed greens out of bag, stick in bowl
12:05pm: Yum! Tasty salad!

Meats and things are all fair game.
posted by anonymoose to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
grilled chicken or steak will keep for a few days in the fridge and are great on salads

you could also cook up a bunch of ground beef with taco seasoning and make taco salads

tuna salad is also pretty quick to made and is pretty good on top of salad (in my opinion)
posted by I like to eat meat at 3:03 PM on May 17, 2007

beets+walnuts+goat cheese on top of greens is delicious.

chickpeas+garlic might also be nice.

I think that if you basically have mixed greens + (anything) + olive oil (and maybe balsamic vinegar) + salt/pepper it will = delicious.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2007

Blue cheese, if you're into that sort of thing. Feta's good too.

Marinated X in a jar, where X is red peppers, hot peppers, garlic, olives, capers, mushrooms, beans, cheese, pickled anything or any combination of the above. In fact, the more variety you can find packed into one jar, the more exciting it'll make your salad with the least effort.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2007

cannelini beans right out of the can, with a little salt and pepper, are great in salad.

buy shredded carrot--it lasts a while.

any shredded cheese is great. you can buy pre-crumbled goat, feta, and blue cheeses.

slice up some cold cuts in advance.

walnuts and sliced almonds are great.

fruit is great: slice up some pears or apples, just toss in some berries. also good are dried cranberries or apricots.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:19 PM on May 17, 2007

Tablespoon of olive oil

Half a tablespoon red wine vinegar

Half a teaspoon wholegrain mustard

Shake well and pour. You can multiply the amounts and store in a bottle.
posted by fire&wings at 3:22 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Diced red/yellow/green peppers


Canned/drained peas or corn

Sunflower seeds

Chopped celery

Can of tuna

Bleu cheese
posted by tristeza at 3:24 PM on May 17, 2007

Tuna or salmon, either canned or in those pouches they have now (America's Test Kitchen likes the pouches). I've even seen various flavors (lemon, herb, teriyaki, etc) though I've never tried them.

Bacon, obviously.

Leftover or pre-cooked veggies like green beans, potatoes, carrots, etc, tossed with tuna and a mustardy dressing, some olives or maybe capers, and you have yourself a little Niçoise action.
posted by padraigin at 3:24 PM on May 17, 2007

If I bread chicken tenders for dinner the night before, I chop up the leftovers and have them with salad the next day. I do the same thing with grilled chicken or steak.

What I've been doing lately is buying romaine hearts, chopping them up, adding tomato, diced red onion and putting them in a container for work. In one small sandwich bag, I bring some croutons. In another little zipper bag, I bring this pre-made homemade salad dressing If the mayo scares you off, like it did for me, use light mayo or light sour cream instead. The dressing is really good.

The salad dressing has a decent shelf life, so you don't have to make it daily. Everything else I prepare and pack in about 10 minutes the night before.
posted by jerseygirl at 3:28 PM on May 17, 2007

My personal fave is ham, peas, green onions* and greens plus just about any kind of dressing (my fave is bleu cheese). Add egg if you need more protein.

*handy hint for quick prep: use kitchen scissors to cut the green onion directly onto the salad. No cutting board to clean!

Raw grated beets on a salad is surprisingly good if grated fine enough.
posted by lekvar at 3:30 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Grapes or strawberries, walnuts, and gorgonzola. Chicken optional, bacon highly recommended.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:30 PM on May 17, 2007

Camembert and strawberries. A minute - maybe two, tops.

Whatever veges you happen to have in the fridge? Chopped?
posted by goo at 3:33 PM on May 17, 2007

By the way - on Sunday nights I make a huge salad, divvy it up into 5 ziplock bags, and I have lunch for the week. You just have to avoid really wet veggies (cukes, mushrooms) and you add the cheese/meat/dressing upon eating.
posted by tristeza at 3:37 PM on May 17, 2007

Steam a bunch of veggies (the mix is up to you) dump them in a big zip lock bag with some Italian dressing & basalmic vinegar, shake it up and stick it in the fridge till you're ready to eat. A steamer makes it really easy.
Roasting the veggies would be even better. They last for several days.
Mix up a batch or whatever nuts, seeds & dried fruit you like to sprinkle on. You can just reach in and grab a handful instead of opening a bunch of packages. Buy a few things at a time so you're not always eating the same things.
HB egg, cheese, meats and baked tofu for protien.
Most stores carry those pre-shredded, packaged slaw mixes. You could throw some of that in too.
posted by BoscosMom at 3:42 PM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Take diced fresh mango and tomato, marinate in a little vinegar and garlic, maybe just a dash of mint. Good by itself, good on greens. A batch will keep a few days in the fridge.

Oh, and another vote for walnuts.
posted by gimonca at 3:56 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Marinate 5 chicken cutlets in hot sauce for 5-10 minutes, then saute until cooked thoroughly. You can cut them up once they're cool, or you can wait until you're ready to prep your individual salads. Add cut chicken cutlet, cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, diced carrots, and ranch dressing - Buffalo Chicken Salad that's wicked tasty! (you can, of course, add bacon. everything's better with bacon)
posted by spinturtle at 4:11 PM on May 17, 2007

hit post too soon....this gives you a week of salads, if that wasn't clear.
posted by spinturtle at 4:12 PM on May 17, 2007

Cannelini beans(can) + Tuna(can) + Capers + Chopped Onions + fresh ground black pepper = Mmmm...
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:29 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

curry powder + mayo or olive oil + leftover chicken. other stuff to taste (celery, green onions, ginger, avocado, tomato, etc.)
posted by juv3nal at 4:40 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

you can freeze gazpacho (basically cold liquid salad soup)
posted by ejaned8 at 6:19 PM on May 17, 2007

Pea and lentil sprouts are amazingly simple to grow and have intense concentrations of vitamins & good enzymes.

(They taste sweet / fresh / crunchy, nothing like their cooked form.)

• Buy a bag of dried green peas (whole, not split). Rinse them in water, then soak them for 12 hours.
• Drain them and just let them sit, in anything (pot, jar, etc. -- or a colander makes it easiest).
• Rinse them again every 10 or 12 hours (precision is not important), draining so they're not sitting in water.
• In a day and a half they'll start growing little sprouts. As soon as they have any growth, they've gone through their magic enzyme-ification.

Voila: incredibly nutritious, incredibly cheap, crunchy salad topper. Extras store well in the fridge.
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:31 PM on May 17, 2007 [5 favorites]

i think spiced nuts (i like a chili-lime seasoning blend) go a long way toward an exciting salad. i also like lots of little stuff piled on my greens, like shredded carrots, corn and finely chopped veggies.

definitely experiment with dressings until you find one or a few you really like. oil and vinegar are all very well, but there are so many options...a similar salad base with a different dressing every day could add some easy variety.
posted by lgyre at 6:54 PM on May 17, 2007

This is maybe not filling enough if it's all you're having for dinner, but one of my favorite things in the world to eat is a salad made from nothing but spinach and sliced strawberries.
posted by peep at 7:17 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Chili. It's surprisingly awesome.

Crumbled bacon, chopped hard-boiled egg, honey-mustard dressing.

Tuna salad, baby carrots, balsamic vinaigrette.

Almost any cheese paired with almost any fruit(s).

Almost anything that you would put on pasta works on lettuce.
posted by acorncup at 7:52 PM on May 17, 2007

I like to cut up the ingredients for a Greek salad, minus the lettuce and feta, and squeeze lemon juice and a sprinkle of oregano over it all. This will keep for a couple of days, or if you leave out the tomato, for three. I usually use tomato, red onion, kalamata olives and green pepper, or artichokes from a jar instead of tomato.

Oh, and I'm glad peep reminded me about spinach and strawberry salad, because I haven't had any yet this year. I put honey mustard dressing on mine. If you have too many strawberries to eat before they spoil, you can put them in the freezer and make smoothies or cobbler (or strawberry margaritas!) later.
posted by found dog one eye at 7:56 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

As is obvious from the number and range of above posts, tasty and quick salads are easy to produce and can have many, many unique iterations. Leftovers make great salad components and the more creative you can get, the better.

However, the common thread throughout all GREAT salads is homemade salad dressing. A simple balsamic vinaigrette is incredibly easy to make and lets you avoid some nasty ingredients often found in store bought alternatives. Try it once and I PROMISE you will be hard pressed to go back to the bottle (actually, old salad dressing bottles make perfect containers to make your own). And it lasts forever in the fridge.

For the first time on the internet, here is chefscotticus's famous family balsamic vinaigrette. I encourage you to modify it to your own tastes:

Using a fork on a cutting board, mash 1-2 cloves of garlic with 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt until a paste forms. Add the garlic mash to a container that has a top that seals (my favorite: an nearly empty Dijon mustard jar), followed by several grinds of black pepper and a dollop of Dijon mustard (if there's not mustard already in your container). Fill the container about 1/4 of the way up with balsamic vinegar. Next, add about twice as much extra-virgin olive oil (a traditional vinaigrette has 3 oil:1 vinegar, but 2:1 gives it a bit more punch). Cap and shake well.

This should keep in your refrigerator for weeks. If the oil congeals in the fridge, a quick 15 seconds in the microwave will loosen it up enough to re-emulsify when shaken.

Great additions/modifications include: reduced apple cider (boil down 3 cups of apple cider until it reaches a honey consistency), maple syrup, honey, fresh thyme, shallots (replacing the garlic), etc.

posted by chefscotticus at 9:21 PM on May 17, 2007 [9 favorites]

Here is my 30-second salad, which I probably have about three times a week:

Handful of lettuce
1 Tbsp pre-crumbled feta cheese (I buy mine from Whole Foods)
5 or so caramelized walnuts
Italian dressing
posted by dfan at 6:29 AM on May 18, 2007

Frozen cooked shrimp!!! You can buy a two pound bag at the grocery store and thaw just what you need under running water. Toss with old bay and lemon juice, or make a very quick shrimp salad with mayo/sour cream, onion, tarragon, S&P. Tasty!
posted by robinpME at 6:37 AM on May 18, 2007

I like to roast chopped apples, onions, and mushrooms in the oven for about half an hour (toss them in melted butter first for extra goodness), then throw the whole thing (and maybe some sliced chicken breast) over greens. The juice that the veggies release, whisked with some olive oil, makes a great dressing for the salad.
posted by vytae at 8:57 AM on May 18, 2007

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