This easy Meal Prep Salad stays fresh in the fridge for days, so it's a convenient plant-based option to make ahead for weekday lunches or as a side dish with dinner. Massaged kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, diced bell pepper, chickpeas, walnuts, pepitas, and dried cranberries are tossed in a citrusy tahini dressing for a grab-and-eat meal you can prep in less than 30 minutes.
Has anyone else been experiencing a little cooking fatigue lately? One unfortunate result of cooking fatigue is that it makes it really difficult to get in all of your fresh veggies (so much rinsing and chopping involved!). As a solution, I started making this Meal Prep Salad recipe whenever I have a little burst of motivation to get some work done in the kitchen.
Eating salad is just so much easier to execute when there's a fresh, green mix of produce all ready to go in the fridge. Even better if there's a bit of tahini dressing tossed in, too.
Think of this Meal Prep Salad recipe as a cheaper, more customizable alternative to the pre-made bagged salads at the grocery store (or some of the pricey salad dishes you might've gotten into the habit of ordering from your local café).
The recipe as written makes a large, bulk-size salad that you can serve to the whole family, or portion out into single-serving meal prep containers to come back to over and over again throughout the week. This way, your veggie intake can stay strong even as your energy for kitchen prep wanes!
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this Meal Prep Salad. There are also many ingredient substitutions possible with this recipe. (See the Ingredient Substitutions section below for a few ideas.)
- Brussels sprouts
- Red bell pepper (or any color bell pepper)
- Garlic (fresh garlic or garlic powder)
- Ginger (fresh ginger root or ground ginger)
- Fresh parsley (optional)
- Fresh basil (optional)
- Orange juice or a large navel orange
- Canned chickpeas
- Shelled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)
- Dried cranberries
- Tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Maple syrup
- Knife and cutting board
- Large mixing bowl (at least 4-quart capacity*)
- Liquid measuring glass (to prep the salad dressing)
*If you don't have a large enough mixing bowl, cut the recipe in half or mix the salad together in separate, smaller bowls.
Prep the Fresh Produce:
With your knife and cutting board, chop the kale and Brussels sprouts into thin slices. Next, dice the bell pepper. Chop the fresh parsley.
For the dressing, grate the garlic and the fresh ginger, and chop and fresh basil (if you're including it).
You can skip some of these steps by purchasing pre-prepped vegetables, such as a bag of shaved Brussels sprouts and a jar of minced garlic. To save time, you could also swap in garlic powder and ground ginger for the fresh garlic and ginger in the dressing recipe.
Prep the Pantry Ingredients:
For pantry prep, you'll just need to drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and chop up the walnuts if you bought them whole.
Mix the Salad:
Once the ingredients are all prepped, it's time to mix together the salad. Transfer the chopped kale to a large mixing bowl and massage it with your hands for a couple of minutes, until the kale softens and becomes more tender. The kale will reduce in total volume after you massage it.
After the kale is massaged, toss in the shaved Brussels sprouts and mix with your hands or a set of salad serving spoons until the green veggies are evenly combined.
Next, add in the drained chickpeas, diced bell pepper, chopped fresh parsley (if you're using it), walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries.
Then use your hands or utensils to stir all of these ingredients together until you have a consistent salad mix. At this point, the salad is prepped and you just need to toss it with the dressing, which you can either do right away or right before serving.
Orange Tahini Dressing
If you've been following along for awhile, you know I love a good tahini dressing. Usually, I make tahini dressing with lemon, but this one incorporates orange juice and apple cider vinegar instead. The result is slightly sweet and citrusy with a delicious, vinegary bite. So good.
I recommend prepping the tahini dressing in a liquid measuring cup since you can measure and mix in the same container to avoid dirtying extra measuring spoons.
To make this orange tahini dressing, just add tahini, orange juice (bottled or fresh-squeezed both works), apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, ginger, fresh basil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to the measuring cup. Use a small whisk or a fork to stir the dressing together until it forms one, uniform mixture.
This recipe makes just over one cup of Orange Tahini Dressing, which I find to be the perfect amount for this salad. Feel free to scale up the recipe if you like a more heavily dressed salad.
You can also make this recipe without the fresh basil and maple syrup if you're in a pinch.
One troubleshooting note with this dressing recipe. The tahini I use is on the thinner, more liquidy side. If your tahini is thicker, you may need to whisk in a little water to thin out the dressing to your desired consistency. You can always play around with the other flavorings to get them just right.
After you mix together the dressing, pour it over the kale and Brussels sprouts salad.
Then, use your salad utensils to toss the dressing with the rest of the ingredients until they're all evenly coated. Serve the salad immediately, or pop it in the fridge for later. Your future self will definitely thank you for the effort!
This Meal Prep Salad is naturally vegan and gluten-free, and it's made with a variety of colorful ingredients that pack in a nutritional punch.
- Chickpeas belong to the nutrient-dense and environmentally sustainable pulse family. They're a great source of protein and fiber.
- Kale and Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables and contain high levels of fiber, essential vitamins, and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
- Walnuts are an excellent source of the plant-based form of essential omega-3s from alpha-linolenic acid.
- Extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy fat source with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).
Meal Prep and Storage
This meal prep salad is made with some of my favorite veggies that stand up to the test of time in the fridge. Kale and Brussels sprouts are both great options for make-ahead green salads because they won't wilt or get soggy as more tender greens tend to. (Cabbage, also a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, is another smart make-ahead option!)
You can even toss this salad with the tahini dressing before storing it in the fridge for ultimate meal-prepping convenience. For easy, grab-and-go weekday lunches, just transfer the prepared salad to individual airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. At lunchtime, take out the container, allow it to come to room temperature if preferred, give it a stir, and you're good to go.
- If you can't find tahini, substitute peanut butter or almond butter. You may need to add some water to help thin out the mixture to a dressing consistency.
- Instead of chickpeas, swap in white beans, lentils, or steamed edamame.
- In place of walnuts, use pecans, sliced almonds, or hemp hearts.
- If you don't have pumpkin seeds, substitute sunflower seeds.
- Instead of dried cranberries, try raisins, chopped pitted dates, or rehydrated goji berries.
- If you don't have apple cider vinegar, use distilled white vinegar, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
- Not a fan of kale? Try this salad with shredded cabbage instead.
Best Recipes to Serve With:
If you're planning to eat this salad as a side dish, add in one of these vegetarian recipes to make it a complete meal.
- One-Pot Yellow Split Pea Soup
- BBQ Tempeh Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- Tomato Mozzarella Sandwiches with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction
- Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Strata
- Vegan Cranberry Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
- 5 cups thinly sliced kale (1 pound)
- 3 cups shaved Brussels sprouts
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup tahini
- ½ cup orange juice (bottled or fresh-squeezed)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, grated (see note)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger (see note)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add kale to a large mixing bowl and massage it with your hands for 2 minutes, or until tender. Stir in Brussels sprouts and mix until evenly combined.
Add red bell pepper, parsley (if using), chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Toss until evenly mixed.
Whisk tahini, orange juice, extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup (if using), garlic, ginger, fresh basil (if using), salt, and pepper in a liquid measuring cup.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Substitute 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder for fresh garlic if desired.
Substitute ¼ teaspoon ground ginger for fresh ginger if desired.
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