Wednesday, 7 June 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Keeping Salad Fresh

Hello lovelies! Today is not so much a recipe as a "how to."

Waste Aware says that the UK throws away 40% of bagged salad (that's a shocking 178 million bags a year!) because it goes off before you can use it. Don't waste food or money. Try this to keep your salad fresh.

It's summer. The weather is heating up and I am craving salad. There is something lovely about  eating a delicious salad of crunchy lettuce and crispy vegetables that makes you feel healthy and happy and slightly smug.

I am also working many days and longer hours in the shop as it is summer and so i need a "grab and go" sort of plan so i don't have to wake up a half and hour early just to assemble my lunch. Ya dig?

Also, I am obsessed with not wasting food. Not only is it a waste of money to throw away food, but it is a waste of food. That's food I could have put in my belly if it hadn't gone off.

So what I needed was a way to pre-prepare a big ole bunch of salad and not let it go off. So i did what every modern person does these days--I googled it.
                                                        Image result for paper towels
Basically, what i discovered was that you need to absorb all excess moisture to keep salad fresh. Every single site I visited used paper towels. Lots and lots of paper towels. Because you have to change the paper towels every day.

Now, we don't really use paper towels. I am a cloth kind of gal. We use cloth napkins and tea towels and yellow dusters and microfibre cloths because you can wash and reuse them. I do have a 4 roll pack of paper towels that i use VERY sparingly for wiping up bird poo from my front door/gate and blotting the oil from sundried tomatoes (not with the same paper towel, obviously!) That 4 pack of paper towels will last me a year. The last thing i want to do is use it up quicker.

I will admit, I did try it with paper towels the first day based on recommendations from the internet that said you need a paper towel ON TOP and UNDER the salad. The paper towel on top was not problem, It was damp the next day and i carefully peeled it away and hung it to dry to be reused. But the paper towel under was a completely different story. It had basically dissolved from all the moisture and I couldn't get to it without removing all the salad into another container and then I spent 40 minutes picking little spitballs of paper towel out of my lettuce. It was like being back in junior high again. Who has time for that?

So I went with what I should have gone with all along--my trusty tea towel.

Now I have a British fridge not an American style fridge. If you have a bigger fridge you can use a bigger container. But this is the biggest my wee fridge will hold.

I use a 4 litre plastic Rubbermaid style container with a lid that I bought at Wilkos. I line it with a clean tea towel like this:

Then I fill it with salad. This next picture was taken about half way through the week so the box isn't full, but just picture it full to the brim with salady goodness, ok? 

We are still on a budget so i have to incorporate my need for greens within our £30 spending limit. I buy a bag of Meadow Fresh Sweet and Crunchy salad greens from Lidl that nets me 370g for less than £1. That contains lettuce, a bit of purple cabbage and some carrot slivers.
However, I am a carrot fiend. It is my personal believe that there can't be too many carrots in a salad.
                                                     Tesco Grated Carrot 200G

It would be easier and quicker to buy this bag of 200g pre-prepared carrot slivers for 60p, but I am on a budget. Every 60p counts, plus you have an extra plastic bag to throw away. And when I can buy a bag of a whole kilogram of carrots from Lidl for around 60p, the choice is clear. It takes me literally 5 minutes to cut up 200g worth of carrots into slivers. 5 minutes. I timed it.

So then I add a chopped pepper (usually the dreaded green one) and some chopped mushrooms, then I wrap the towel up around it and seal the lid and pop it in the fridge for grab-and -go salads.

Every day I lift  the bundle of salad out and replace the towel with a clean one. Then carefully dump all the salad from the damp towel into the box with the dry towel, scoop out my daily salad, put the lid back on and pop it back in the fridge. Here's what it looks like wrapped up (in a different tea towel):
It is super easy to do this, takes seconds and the salad stays crisp and dry for 7 days. Seven days, people! It is so much better than throwing away paper towels and you get the moisture from the bottom without the dreaded spitball effect of paper towels.

 I reuse the same 2 towels over a week, letting them dry out on their off days and then wash them both at the end of the week.

I have been doing this for about a month and have had no wilted greens and definitely no SLIME. You know what i mean when lettuce goes all YUCK.

I will admit that by day seven, the greens are just a tad softer than at the start of the week. They don't say CRUNCH, but they do say CRUNCH, if you know what I mean.

I like to top my salad with some roasted salted peanuts for extra crunch and a tablespoon of my homemade vegan Parmesan. I try salad dressings, but always come back to this one. It is easier to take to work as i don't have to carry dressing in a separate container or worry about leakage. Just sprinkle and go.

In case you have forgotten my recipe for Parm:
6 TB nutritional yeast flakes
6 TB ground almonds
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
Blend together and store in fridge.

Happy eating!

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