When the weather warms up, we start craving big bowls of cool, crunchy salad for dinner. But a good dinner salad is more than just greens and dressing; it should be full of satisfying goodies like meat, cheese, nuts, cooked vegetables and grains, which can all be prepped beforehand. How far ahead of time can you wash, chop and cook all the components of a great main-course salad? I talked to Jeanne Kelley, author of Salad for Dinner, who shared her handy schedule for keeping your fridge and pantry stocked with ready-to-use ingredients for fun and sophisticated salads for dinner.
"Many green salads come together quickly," says Jeanne. "But in order to create more varied, fun and sophisticated salads, you’ll have to log a little more kitchen time." Luckily, all that washing, chopping, marinating and roasting can be done up to a week ahead of time and kept on hand for salads throughout the week. Here is Jeanne's handy chart for prepping common ingredients, which makes multi-component salads a quick weeknight meal option or an easy addition to a summer dinner party.
Schedule for Great Make-Ahead Salads
ONE WEEK AHEAD
- Wash and dry lettuce. It will keep for several days in the refrigerator and is a wonderful inspiration for salad-making.
- Make vinaigrettes and dressings and refrigerate until needed.
ONE DAY AHEAD
- Marinate meats and chicken for grilling.
- Chop and slice durable vegetables such as celery, radishes, bell pepper and jicama.
- Tortilla and wonton strips can be fried and kept at room temperature.
- Crumble, grate, slice, dice or shave cheese.
- Slice or dice cured meats such as ham, chorizo and salami.
- Fry, cool and crumble bacon.
- Tear or chop washed greens.
Just looking at this list is inspiring me to stock my fridge with lots of yummy salad mix-ins this week. Thanks, Jeanne!
(Image: Thai Grilled Steak Salad/Anjali Prasertong)