how to make quick and easy make-ahead salads

Hi everyone! It’s Claire here again from The Kitchy Kitchen. Confession: I hate salad. Leafy greens depress me. I usually eat all of the “stuff” in a salad, leaving the greens until the end, and then heavily sigh as I try to clean my plate. So, when it comes to eating a little healthier for lunch, I struggle. I feel compelled to order a salad but resent having to eat one. Yes, I realize I sound like a toddler turning up their nose to broccoli.

To deal with this dilemma, I put together some of my favorite grain based salads. They’re filling, they’re substantial, they’re make-ahead, and they’re thoroughly non-depressing. There’s also a recipe for everyone (vegetarian or vegan), so everyone can enjoy these for lunch. Enjoy!

Hijiki, Brown Rice, Salmon, Nori, Shredded Carrot, Green Onion

hijiki, brown rice, salmon, nori, shredded carrot, and green onion salad


  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 4 ounces salmon, cooked and flaked
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 nori sheet, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons green onion
  • 3 tablespoons hijiki (also spelled hiziki), cooked, strained, and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce


Combine all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quinoa, Beet, Goat Cheese, Spinach, Walnuts, Lemon, Parsley

Quinoa and beet make-ahead salad


  • ¾ cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 2 beets, cooked, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • ¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


1. Combine all ingredients, except the goat cheese, and mix thoroughly.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Fold in goat cheese.

Brown Rice, Cilantro, Pico de Gallo, Black Beans, Corn, Hot Sauce, Red Onion, Cotija

brown rice, cilantro, and corn make-ahead salad


  • ¾ cup brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • ½ cup black beans
  • 1 cooked corn cob, kernels removed
  • 1/8 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons pico de gallo
  • up to 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ¼ cup cotija cheese


1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the cotija, and mix thoroughly.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Fold in cotija.

Quinoa, Apple, Pecan, Cheddar, Caramelized Onion, Arugula

quinoa apple pecan salad


  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • ½ apple, cubed
  • 2 ounces cheddar, cubed
  • ¼ cup pecans, lightly toasted
  • ½ yellow onion, caramelized
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup arugula, packed


1. Combine all ingredients, except the arugula, and mix thoroughly.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Fold in arugula.

Kale, Peanut Sauce, Chili Oil, Peanuts, Green Onion, Cilantro, Tofu

Kale, peanut sauce, and tofu salad


  • 2 cups kale leaves, ribs removed, cut ¼-inch thin
  • 3 tablespoons peanut sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil
  • 3 tablespoons peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons green onion
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup tofu, cubed


1. To slice the kale, cut out the ribs, then stack the leaves.

2. Roll the leaves up and cut across in 1-inch slices. Chop again to get large pieces.

3. Combine kale, peanut sauce, and chili oil in a large bowl and massage the leaves for at least 3 minutes, until wilted and bright green (they should be tender and easily chewed).

4. Add the remaining ingredients, salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly.

Peanut Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons sesame paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy paste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic, minced

In a food processor, combine peanut butter, sesame paste, soy paste, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and white vinegar. Process until smooth and fold in minced garlic.

These five salads should get you through the rest of the summer, especially if you put them on rotation.

Which one of these salads sounds the best to you?

Let me know in the comments!

X Claire
The Kitchy Kitchen

Photos: The Kitchy Kitchen