A Hearty Make-Ahead Salad to Start Fall on the Right Foot

August 21, 2017

Ready to get back into the swing of things? We partnered with Whole Foods Market to bring you back from the summer lull—thanks to this one-two punch of a make-ahead, apple-laden salad.

In the summer, meal-planning can fall to the wayside. When technicolor produce is coming up through every sidewalk crack and when food doesn't have to be on the table until 8 PM, tomatoes can be dinner and raspberries can be dessert. Just add pasta and, later, a drizzle of melted chocolate.

But come late August, daylight hours constrict, schedules refill with work obligations and after-school activities, and there's an aching urge to step back into the comfort (and stability) of reliable routines. Instead of figuring out dinner on your commute home, or lunch on your way in, it's reassuring to know the fridge is stocked with the puzzle pieces of a throw-it-together meal.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Here's a hearty, greens-grains-Gruyère salad that will help you re-enter the rhythms of routine, slowly—it still has the ease and swiftness of your favorite low-maintenance summer recipes. (No need to turn on the oven and roast a whole pork shoulder just yet.)

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The constituent parts—bulgur, kale, and roasted sweet potatoes, all coated in a brown butter apple vinaigrette—will keep well on their own, and the mixed salad will stay good for five days, meaning that you can follow the recipe start-to-finish or take it piecemeal, making bigger batches of any components you might also use in other meals.

Here's what you'll do:

  • Roast the sweet potatoes. You can bake them whole, then cut them into cubes (if you'd like whole sweet potatoes for another recipe, let's say) or, to save time, chop the raw sweet potatoes and then roast them. Swap in carrots or winter squash, if you'd like, or skip this part altogether.
  • Prep the bulgur. Since bulgur has been parboiled, dried, and cracked, it cooks quickly—so quickly that you don't even have to boil it (a small miracle! why are we all not eating more bulgur?!). Simply bring hot water to a boil (in an electric kettle, if you have one), then pour it over the bulgur, covering it by 1/2-inch or so. Twenty minutes later, your bulgur will be plump and tender—all you have to do is drain. Make extra while you're at it: Bulgur will keep in the fridge for a week, and you can mix it into tabbouleh, add a spoonful to tomato soup, or use it as the base of a veggie burger.
  • That twenty-minute waiting period is all the time you need to make the brown butter apple vinaigrette, which is adapted from Vivian Howard's Deep Run Roots. Brown a few tablespoons of butter, then sauté coriander seeds, chile flakes, shallots, and almonds, followed by diced apple, which will absorb all of that flavor while still leaving some spicy, lemony vinaigrette in the pan. Pour this hot dressing directly over ribboned (or torn) kale to relax those hearty leaves. Consider doubling the dressing recipe, too: Spoon it over roasted vegetables, savory oats, or cheese toasts later in the week.
  • When you're ready to assemble the salad, all you'll have to do is grate Gruyère (or sub in Jarlsberg, Swiss, or cheddar), cut up a bit more apple for sweetness and crunch, and toss everything together.

In under an hour, you've set yourself up for two dinners (or quite a few lunches) and, if you've made extra sweet potatoes, bulgur, and vinaigrette, you've built a solid foundation for more meals to come. You'll feel as if you've just organized a 3-ring binder with plastic tab dividers—smart, organized, and ready to tackle a busy autumn like the meal-planning champ you are.

You may even be eager to get out your sweaters? Or are we moving too fast?

THe Apple Doesn't Fall Far

Below, you'll find a few more make-ahead apple recipes to ease you out of stone fruit season:

What meals do you make-ahead when it's time to go back to school routines? Tell us in the comments below.

Ready to get back into the swing of things? We partnered with Whole Foods Market to bring you back from the summer lull—thanks to this one-two punch of a make-ahead, hearty salad.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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1 Comment

BerryBaby September 3, 2017
Do you do anything to the kale to make it more palatable? I find it very tough and not nearly as tender as spinach or a lettuce.