I call simple make-ahead kale salad my getting through the crazy salad. This is my power salad. A simple base of kale, beets, cooked whole grains and seeds is so full of good for your nutrition all by itself, but it is also perfect for any other toppings that might strike your fancy. Make it ahead and pack for lunch all week, you will be so thankful you did.
More packable lunch salads, try this Sushi Salad with Edamame or High Protein Pasta and Carrot Salad. Both are make-ahead and travel well for taking with you for healthy lunches.
Fall is kinda feeling normal again. Kinda. School is back and we are starting to get back to routines. I'm packing lunches. So things must be back to normal. Right?
This kale salad makes a regular appearance on my weekend meal prep to-do list. Undressed this salad will keep for days. With the dressing on -- it will still be perfect for lunch the same day. Easy to pack and take with you.
The power salad
I call this salad my power salad because it is so packed with nutrition, it can get me through my busiest days. I can make all the components ahead of time. It's a quick assemble and go.
And because kale is a sturdy green I find that I can toss it with dressing in the morning and it is still perfect by lunchtime.
And it is so versatile.
Starting simply with - fresh kale, cooked or pickled beets, a cooked grain (I used a medium grain brown rice here, but use quinoa or wheat berries if you want) and a generous sprinkle of sunflower seeds for crunch and protein. It's an easy base that can take all sorts of dressings and toppings
Add your favourite salad dressing, I like these:
- Lemon Tahini dressing
- a vegan creamy sweet garlic dresssing
- Olive oil, lemon and a pinch fo salt
To make it a meal, add some protein:
- Oven baked tofu
- Roasted chickpeas
- Hard boil eggs
More toppings and add-ins:
- Diced apple or pears
- Dried cranberries or cherries
- Feta cheese
- Candied pecans or toasted tamari seeds
Kale is a sturdy green and once it is washed, dried and chopped, it will keep ready for salads through the week.
Clean and dried kale will keep 10 days to 2 weeks if stored properly.
How to wash kale
When I get home from the grocery store, I like to clean my produce right away. I usually fill the sink with clean fresh water with a big splash of white vinegar.
Remove the kale from any packaging and remove any elastics or ties from the stocks. Pick through the leaves, discarding any brown or discoloured ones. Then separate the leaves and submerge them in the water, swish the leaves around for a bit and let them hang out in the water for a few minutes.
Tip: You can add other produce to this washing water. You don't have to wash just one thing at a time! I have a big sink and throw everything - all the fruit and veggies - that needs washing into the same sinkful of water.
When the kale leaves have soaked for 5-10 minutes, remove the kale leaves from the sink and rinse well with clean fresh water. Place the rinsed leaves into a colander and let them drain. Or simple shake out the excess water.
Use a salad spinner to dry kale leaves
A salad spinner is essential to get the leaves really dry. Leaving moisture on the leaves will just accelerate the degradation process -- your kale will wilt and lose its colour more quickly. Properly dry leaves last over a week. In fact, I've had washed and dried kale last at least 2 weeks.
To perfectly dry kale (or any salad leaves really) - you will need to spin them for several minutes. I pause a few times, empty any water that has accumulated in the bottom of the spinner and dry the inside bowl of the spinner. You will know they are mostly dry when the inside bowl of the spinner stays dry.
Storing kale for maximum freshness
The easiest way to store cleaned and dry kale is in a zip-top plastic bag with a clean paper towel or two. The paper towel will absorb any leftover moisture and help keep the kale fresh.
If you want to avoid using single-use plastic bags (I do, I do) these Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage containers are the best thing I have ever used. They seal tightly and keep leaves fresh for weeks. You can get them here. I like the 9.6 cup size for storing salad greens, prepared vegetables, undressed salads and fresh berries.
Meal prep steps
Kale: Wash and dry kale and store in an airtight container. I love these Rubbermaid containers. See the section above for more details on how to wash kale.
Beets: I used to cook my own beets on the weekend. But I found pre-cooked beets in the produce section of my grocery store and they are the best thing ever. Cleaned, cooked and ready to slice on top of a salad. I also keep a jar of pickled beets on hand too. Pickled beets are just as good.
Cooked Whole Grain: cooking a whole grain each weekend is part of my regular meal prep routine. I love adding a chewy, hearty grain to salads. For this salad try whole-grain brown or black rice, wild rice, quinoa, or wheat berries. They will all work.
Dressing: Select and make your dressing. Store in a separate container.
Toppings: On the weekends I will often hard boil a few eggs, bake some tofu, or roast chickpeas. All of these are simple to make and will keep well for the week. Mix it up week to week.
In the mornings or the night before: in a single-serve air-tight container, add kale and some dressing. Massage the kale with the dressing. Then top with sliced beets, sunflower seeds and any other toppings you are using - tofu, hard-boiled eggs, or whatever - seal it up and it will make it to lunchtime!
Make-ahead kale salad with beets and whole grains
- 1 bunch kale washed and dried, tough stems removed and tore or chopped in bite sized pieces. About 8 cups
- 2 cups pickled beets or roasted beets if you prefer over pickled beets. You can even go with raw beets if thinly sliced
- 1 cup cooked whole long-grain rice I like long grain brown rice or black rice here
- ¾ cup sunflower seeds
- Lemon Tahini dressing or dressing of your choice
Toppings and add-ons
- baked tofu
- roasted chickpeas
- goat cheese or feta
- roasted vegetables
- any other cooked and cubed protein of your choice
- Toss all ingredients together in the same bowl. At this point, the salad can be stored in an air-tight container for about 5 days to a week.
- To serve the salad: Toss about 2 cups of the salad with 1-2 tablespoons of salad dressing. Best served right away, but can be tossed about 1 hours ahead of time. Add toppings if desired.
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