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Food & Recipes

This Church Potluck Hack Keeps Salad Greens From Going Limp and Soggy — Even After Adding Dressing

Goodbye soggy salads!

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Leafy green salads are a refreshing dish to serve at picnics and BBQs — but transporting them to your destination isn’t always easy. As the weather heats up, crisp salad greens can easily become wilted or soggy after sitting in the car; plus, the dressing can separate or spoil in the heat. But salad duty doesn’t have to be so stressful. If you employ a few smart tricks the next time you’re preparing greens, you’ll be able to offer tasty and travel-friendly salads to your loved ones at any spring gathering. For tips on how to keep salad greens crisp while on the road, we spoke to Katie Sabatini, RD, LDN, and Food Safety and Quality Assurance Manager at Little Leaf Farms.

How To Keep Salad Greens Crisp While On the Go

You’ve likely heard some common recommendations for making to-go salads: Use a salad spinner after washing the greens, opt for sturdy greens like kale or romaine, and pack them in an airtight container. While these suggestions will certainly help prevent mushy salad greens, it doesn’t stop there. Here, Sabatini shares four additional tips for locking in your salad’s freshness as you head from point A to B.

  • Look for locally-grown greens. Leafy greens that are locally grown (like Little Leaf Farms), are ideal because they don’t spend as much time traveling from the farm to the grocery store. In our case, lettuce is delivered from our greenhouse to the store in just 24 hours, which helps it stay fresh and crispy for up to two weeks.
  • Choose your dressings carefully. Creamy dressings, like Caesar or ranch, can easily weigh down your leafy greens and leave them soggy before you have a chance to dig in. Additionally, creamy dressings often require refrigeration to keep them safe to eat. Instead, opt for a lighter dressing like oil and vinegar or Italian to add flavor while still keeping the salad greens crisp. Oil and vinegar-based dressings are also safer to serve at warmer temperatures because most do not contain ingredients that require refrigeration. This decreases the possibility of foodborne illness for picnic-goers. Bonus: This Homemade Pickle Dressing from Little Leaf Farms uses tangy Dijon mustard, which acts as an emulsifier to help prevent the oil, vinegar, and other ingredients from separating.
  • Don’t allow the greens and dressing to touch beforehand. It’s probably tempting to dress your salad in advance so you can save a step before serving it. However, mixing the salad greens and dressing too early contributes to sogginess. Alternatively, keep the vinaigrette in a separate container or unopened in its original packaging during travel. Once it’s time to eat, offer the dressing in a bowl next to the greens and toppings so everyone can dress their own personal salad.
  • Keep leafy greens at the proper temperature during storage and transport. Leafy greens should be stored between 34 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure those greens stay cool, use a cooler and ice packs on your way to the gathering. Afterwards, place the salad on the buffet table just before mealtime. If the weather is extremely warm, place the bowl of greens on top of a larger bowl filled with ice. This trick provides additional cooling and lasting crispy goodness.

If you keep these steps in mind, preparing salads for a gathering should be a breeze. Use the travel-friendly salad recipe below to make your life even easier.

A Delicious Recipe for Mason Jar Salads

This Mason Jar Picnic Salad recipe from blogger Kate Bowler of DomestikatedLife.com is simple and doesn’t require exact measurements. So, you can use your desired amount of each ingredient — based on flavor preference or how many jars you’ll need to serve. Just be sure to leave enough room in each jar to firmly secure the lid; then your salad will be ready to travel with you to the picnic or cookout!

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite vinaigrette dressing
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes, whole
  • Fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • Slices of salami, roughly chopped
  • Cheese tortellini, cooked and cooled
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley and basil, finely sliced
  • Baby red and green leaf lettuce (Recommended: Little Leaf Farms Baby Red and Green Leaf Lettuce, Buy from Instacart, $4.48)

Directions:

  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total: 35 mins
  1. Drizzle vinaigrette at bottom of jar(s).
  2. Layer handful of tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, and chopped salami.
  3. Add tortellini on top and press down slightly to pack jar tight.
  4. Top with chopped herbs and salad greens.
  5. Seal each jar; keep cold and upright until ready to serve.
  6. When time to eat, shake jars to mix up dressing and ingredients. Enjoy!
Summer Mason Jar Salads_1
Kate Bowler at @DomestikateBlog

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