We were out of town at the beginning of the month and spent a few days in New York City visiting my sister. Coming from Seattle, I'm not used to that kind of heat and humidity and we virtually melted — relying largely on salads for dinner because they didn't require an oven or a subway schlep. Even when I'm at home, I eat salads frequently and there are a few quick tasks I like to do on the weekend to make salads quick and simple for the week ahead.
The key to ensuring that you make (and therefore eat) inspired, delicious salads throughout the week is to do a bit of prep ahead of time. That way it doesn't feel like you're setting out anew each day with washing and chopping all of your veggies. In fact, you can do a week's worth of washing and chopping in one fell swoop! Here are my favorite ways to prepare for a good week of salad-eating:
5 Ways to Prep Ahead
1. Wash and Chop: Not until I read Tamar Adler's wonderful book, An Everlasting Meal, did it occur to me that I could do all of my weekly salad prep the second I get home from the farmers market. Instead of tossing bags of lettuce and vegetables into the crisper, I wash and slice or chop them first. Sure, this takes some time, but I find I use them much more readily throughout the week if they're already prepped and ready to go.
2. Store and Pack all Components: In addition to washing all of my veggies, I like to package them each individually in reusable containers or tupperware so they're all parceled out and ready to grab and use.
3. Make (or Buy) Dressings: Having all your salad ingredients washed and chopped is a good start, but if you haven't made (or bought) a dressing you're excited about, your weeknight salads won't be as quick as they could be. While I generally just use a quick mixture of oil, Dijon mustard and lemon juice, there are some nights when a buttermilk blue cheese or a creamy fresh herb dressing is most welcome. For that reason, I like to make a small jar on the weekends to stretch through the week.
4. Cook a Pot of Grains or Boil a Few Eggs: I'm a big fan of hearty salads that contain protein so I'm often folding in a hard boiled egg or a large scoop of cooked whole grains. Lately I've been loving quinoa or millet tossed into my salad as they're small and light and don't take up much real estate, so to speak, but also add a good amount of protein and fiber. If you boil eggs in advance or cook a pot of grains at the beginning of the week, using them in your green salads will seem much less of a chore.
5. Toast Nuts and Seeds: In addition to using eggs or grains in my salads, I love a little crunch. Croutons are generally not that interesting, but I love the different flavors and textures of toasted nuts and seeds. From almonds to sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds, it's nice having them already toasted and ready to toss into salads (alternatively fold them into your morning oats or scatter them atop your yogurt).
(Images: Anjali Praesertong)