Serious Eats

The Vegan Experience: The Importance of Hearty Make-Ahead Salads

20130210-pomelo-cabbage-jicama-salad-vegan-1.jpg

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: For the 32 days between February 1st and March 4th, I'm adopting a completely vegan lifestyle. Every weekday I'll be updating my progress with a diary entry and a recipe. For past posts, check here!

Over the course of all my vegan comings and goings, there's one motto that constantly gets repeated in my head. Always be prepared. (Any similarities to existing mottos is completely coincidental). Nowhere is this more apparent than with lunch.

I'm the kind of thoughtful, loving husband who likes to ensure that his dogs and his wife are well-fed at all times, which means checking the fridge every day before I head into the office to make sure that there's an adequate supply of ready-to-eat (or at least ready-to-heat) food to satiate them during the 8 to 12 hours I'm out. It's a purely selfish endeavor, really. I just can't stand the thought of coming home to emaciated stick-figure versions of my loved ones listlessly pulling their skin and bones along the floor, Walking Dead-style, gnawing at the edges of the table or my oh-so-non-vegan leather couch in a desperate attempt to absorb nutrients.

Hearty make-ahead salads have become a staple for me, ready to be pulled out and consumed at moments notice, whether as a hearty dish at dinner, a quick midnight snack, or a full-on lunch. If they're not the Swiss Army knife of the vegan fridge, they're at least the duct tape or rope.

20120121-kale-chickpeas-onions-2.jpg

There are a few keys to making a great make-ahead salad. Here's what I always try and keep in mind:

With these basics in mind, there are any number of directions you can go. Here are a couple of my favorite salad recipes: three you've maybe seen here before and a brand new one designed to take advantage of the awesome pomelos I've been seeing around this season. It combines the bittersweet pomelo with crunchy jicama and bean sprouts, along with cilantro, peanuts, fried shallots, and a sweet-and-hot Thai-style lime-based fat-free dressing. Grapefruit would work just as well if you can't find pomelo.

What about you guys? Any go-to make ahead salads in your repertoire?

Get The Recipes!