Make Ahead

Clean out the Fridge Salad

October  4, 2022
0 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2-4
Author Notes

Salad that allows one to use whatever is in the fridge. It s always good and generally pretty easy. Use what ever you have in the refrigerator and cupboard. It really does work! For crunchies, I am always on the lookout for interesting add-ins for my salads. I find them all over from regular supermarkets, to food outlet places to gourmet cook shops. They are mixes of grains and nuts and seeds, or salad toppers, or I have recently come across a batch of Hatch Chilis batter fried like those onions for green bean casserole. The point is that this is a guideline. But it makes for a terrific supper salad towards the end of the week. Meatloaf to tuna to tofu work as the protein ingredient as does that piece of leftover steak; a couple of hard boiled eggs are never amiss. And don't forget that piece of cheese. As for the dressing, we like it creamy. So my base is a plant based mayo that I like, with mustard as the emulsifier. Add an acid (vinegar of any kind, lemon or lime juice, or some brine from an amazing pickle) and herbs to taste. I often will put a vinegar and oil base with some herbs and salt in my large salad bowl to toss veggies I am going to roast. Then use that same salad bowl with the left-over veggie coating to then make my salad dressing in, incorporating any leftover coating right into the dressing. That way my salad and veggie flavors complement what ever meal I am having that night ( if this salad is not the whole meal). Again the herbs and seasoning are to taste. But feel very creative and really use whatever you have in the fridge: 1/2 a cup of refried beans? go for it!! What about those leftover roasted vegges from two nights ago--absolutely! 1/2 a mango from last night or a few cherries at the bottom of the bowl? put them in as well. Leftover Chinese or Thai takeout? Certainly. Then I just make my salad dressing according to the theme that is already included in a left-over ingredient. But with the base the same. Always works. To loosen up a thick dressing base I simply add some milk (my preference is lactose free but use whatever you wish) until I reach desired thickness. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Kale is a hearty veggie. Everyone talks about massaging your kale to soften it up-but who wants to get their hands full of oil and vinegar? My secret? Make the dressing, put in the heavy greens, cabbage broccoli, or whatever and toss. Then, while those are resting they will soften, and you can prep the rest of your ingredients. Toss again, and et voilá--salad. Serve with toasted cheese sour dough or a crispy flatbread or whatever you want on the side. And one has a complete meal. The credit for this recipe comes from my Dad. He did this about once a week. Literally whatever was in the fridge went in his salad. I have updated some of the ingredients from his iceberg lettuce and bottled salad dressing, as the base, but otherwise it is his method. And, growing up, that was often the best meal of the week! Enjoy your salad, and all those odds and ends that otherwise might have gone in the trash! —judy

What You'll Need
  • Dressing (amounts to taste)
  • 6 tablespoons mayo or aioli of choice
  • 1 tablespoon coarse grainy horseradish mustard
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or other acid)
  • 5-6. grinds of cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or 1-2 cloves minced
  • 1-2 pinches salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or non-dairy alternative
  • Salad (what ever is in the fridge or pantry that works)
  • 4 cups bagged mixed kale and cabbage
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw or chopped broccoli/cauliflower
  • 1/2 zucchini or cucumber diced or sliced
  • 1 carrot grated and or red or green pepper
  • 2-3 green onions (whole thing) thinly sliced
  • 1/2-1 cups chicken chopped, or fried tofu or meat that is left over
  • 2-4 tablespoons raisins or cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds and or nuts (I like sprouted pumpkin)
  • 1/4-1/2 cups crunchies: croutons, fried jalapeños, beets
  1. 1. Mix all salad dressing ingredients EXCEPT milk or alternative in salad bowl, using whisk to blend completely and get mayonnaise lumps broken almost completely down
  2. 2. Whisk in milk or alternative until all emulsifies well. May take a minute or so, but all of a sudden will be nice and creamy and smooth. (Please note: may want to double dressing ingredients if you like a lot of dressing--again the variations are yours to meet your needs) Set aside.
  3. 3. Put kale and cabbage and broccoli into salad dressing and toss. Allow to marinate while pepper the rest of your ingredients.
  4. 4. Chop and prep other ingredients as indicated or of your choice. Put into salad bowl as they are prepared, but DO NOT TOSS until ALL ingredients are added. Then toss again.
  5. 5. I like to allow to sit for a few minutes while I a preparing a toasty-cheesy side of some sort. One doesn't have to worry about the ingredients getting soggy, because they are all pretty hearty and can withstand sitting for a bit. And often the salad is the better for it. If you make too much, it is really good for leftovers. I have even put it in my food chopper and chopped it up some more, then onto a slice of bread for a sandwich!

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