Although it’s getting chillier here in Australia, I was going to wait all the way until November to post this wintery variation on Greek salad for my friends in the northern hemisphere. But since everyone’s trying to go a bit longer between trips to the market during this pandemic (visit this post to read about why), I thought it would be a good time to post a salad recipe that keeps really well for days in the refrigerator. Here, I’ve essentially taken a Greek salad and replaced its most perishable components with ones that will last forever in your fridge.
While romaine is actually pretty hearty to start with, kale is even tougher. Romaine sometimes starts to turn brown a few hours after chopping, it wilts a few days after purchasing, and it does not appreciate being covered in dressing ahead of time. Kale, on the other hand, lasts for a really long time when stored properly, and a dressed kale salad will go strong for at least a day or two in the refrigerator. Kale that’s been coated in dressing might get a little wilted, but that’s not going to stop it from being delicious. Wilted, soggy, next-day romaine, on the other hand, is not ideal.
Furthermore, oranges keep way longer than tomatoes and cucumbers, especially when washed, dried, and kept in your fridge’s fruit drawer (if it’s got one). Plus, they’re delicious, and a fun way to mix things up a bit. And the rest of the ingredients in a classic greek salad last forever in the fridge or pantry. So this salad is a great option if you’re looking for ways to make your supplies last longer between market trips. Here are a few tips to further extend the shelf life of the ingredients in this recipe:
How to make your ingredients last longer
Kale: Stem, wash, and spin-dry your kale as soon as you get it home (the video in this guide to washing herbs shows how to do it without a salad spinner). Don’t just rinse your kale with a light sprinkle, but actually submerge it in water, squish and swish the kale around like you’re shampooing hair, dump the water, and repeat a couple times, (you’ll see the water go from green to clear after a couple rinses. It’s best to lift it out of the water at the final rinse, to make sure any leftover grit settles to the bottom). Get a big container or plastic bag, line it with a layer or two of paper towels (or a clean tea towel) , fill it with the clean/dry kale, and store in the refrigerator. Try to make sure the kale is only touching the towel as much as possible (especially on the bottom of the container), rather than touching the container itself, which will help it stay fresh longer. If you’re going to use it in a salad, I’d try to use it a few days after washing, but if you’re going to cook it, you can usually get away with much longer. I have some I’m cooking later today that’s been in the fridge (stored this way) for a week. Oh, and don’t throw out the stems! Slice them thinly on the diagonal and sauté. They taste just like broccoli stems.
Feta: If you can find it, buy the kind of feta that comes in a tub of brine, rather than the kind that comes shrink-wrapped. I usually eat the whole thing way before it goes bad, but the brined kind is supposed to last for at least a few weeks in the fridge, as long as you keep it consistently chilled, use a clean knife to slice, and keep the feta itself completely submerged. The vacuum packed dry kind lasts a long time before opening, but once you open it you only have between a few days to a week to consume it. I like to slice pieces off the top of brined feta instead of the sides, which helps ensure that the brine level doesn’t lower as you eat more of it. If you slice pieces off the side, the water level will keep falling, and one day you might open the tub to find a not so nice pink surprise on the part of the cheese that’s poking out like an island. Keep it submerged, and you should be good for a while, and throw it out if it starts to smell or look off.
Oranges and lemons: Wash them, dry them, and store them in your refrigerator’s fruit drawer, if you’ve got one. If your lemons have seen better days, but are still totally fine to eat, prepare them for freezing before it’s too late: If their peels are still in good condition, zest them, and place the zest in a little plastic snack bag. Squeeze as much air out as you can, and throw it in the freezer. After zesting (or skipping zesting, as the case may be), cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into ice cube trays. Freeze the trays, pop the frozen cubes out, place in a plastic bag or reusable container (this is a great place to reuse an old yogurt container or something similar), and throw in the freezer. On the other hand, if your citrus is moldy or unnervingly squishy, absolutely don’t use it, and just let it go.
Onion and garlic: Do not store in the refrigerator. Instead, find a cool, dry, dark place and leave them in an open basket or bowl. Pantries work great! Just do not store them in close quarters with potatoes, which will make your onions rot faster. I’ve also linked to a method for pickling onions in the recipe below, which is a good way to save the other 3/4 of that onion after slicing a bit for a salad.
Olives: Feel free to use canned or jarred here, rather than the ones from the fresh olive bar. Besides the fact that jarred/canned olives last a lot longer than ones from the olive bar, I think we’re probably a little skeeved out by self-serve food bars at this moment in time, so I’m personally going to be taking a break for a while. Jarred olives are your friend right now.
Za’atar, black pepper, and oregano: Total no brainer. Keep them sealed tightly in a cool, dark place, and try not to sprinkle them directly over a big bubbling pot, because dried herbs do not appreciate steam. I am the worst about this, and am trying to change my ways, but you won’t get into any trouble with this recipe.
Mustard: Keep it in the fridge once opened.
Olive oil: Keep it in a dark container or in a dark place. Try not to let it get warm.
And above all, don’t forget to wash your hands really well with soap and water before massaging the kale!! Get one of those old fashioned fingernail brushes your granny uses. Seriously, scrub up! If the idea of touching your food really creeps you out right now, you can always use gloves or place your kale and dressing in a plastic bag, and massage the bag from the outside.
ways to use these ingredients beyond this salad
Buy two big bunches of kale, instead of one, wash and store it all at the same time, and make some sautéed kale a few days after you’re sick of kale salad. Just heat a pan over medium-high heat, add a tiny bit of neutral oil, and sauté the kale until it wilts. Then sprinkle on a little bit of soy sauce, a little to a lot of dark sesame oil, a little bit of rice wine vinegar, and a generous pinch of sesame seeds. Or if you have a more mediterranean pantry, start with some sliced garlic in some oil for 30 seconds, then sauté your kale, and finish it with some lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, crushed red pepper, and sesame seeds.
Use mustard, za’atar, black pe
pper, and oregano as flavor boosters anytime you’re cooking a bland protein.
Enjoy feta with fresh or dried fruit as a snack. It’s so good with apricots and other stone fruit (dried, canned, fresh), especially on some toast with a little bit of honey.
Olives: “you will certainly not regret eating 30 to 40 olives” (anyone else??)Print
greek salad with oranges and kale
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: serves 6 as a side (add grilled chicken to make this a main for 4)
6 packed cups chopped kale leaves (150g), from about 1 big bunch
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (55g)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (15g)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or use 2 extra teaspoons vinegar) (15g)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (15g)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (0.5g)
1 tablespoon za’atar* (7g)
1 teaspoon black pepper (3g)
1–2 cloves of garlic, crushed through a press (5g)
Salt, to taste
1 orange, supremed (100g after supreming)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion** (30g)
1/3 cup pitted green olives (60g)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (or more, to taste) (40g)
Extra lemon juice
- Place the kale in a large mixing bowl, and cover with the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, oregano, za’atar, black pepper, garlic, and salt (go easy on the salt, because the kale will shrink down slightly, and you’re going to add some salty feta and olives soon). Wash your hands very well, and “massage” the kale until it softens a bit, feels less crinkly, and the dressing is evenly distributed.
- Top with the oranges, red onion, green olives, and feta, and more lemon to taste (optional), and serve. If you’d like to store it longer, store these toppings separately, and top the kale mixture for each serving as you go. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two, even after dressing and combining everything, but it will last a couple days longer stored separately.
* If you don’t have za’atar, feel free to use a little extra oregano to taste. But don’t replace the whole tablespoon with equal parts oregano, because oregano tends to be a lot more fragrant and overwhelming—just use a little extra. If you don’t have oregano, feel free to use as much extra za’atar as you’d like to replace it. And if you don’t have either, feel free to use about 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, or another herb of your choosing.
** Feel free to use pickled red onion, as I’ve done in the photos here. This recipe explains how to make pickled red onions, which keep for a while in the fridge, and are a good way to make sure you don’t have to find an immediate use for the rest of that onion after slicing just a little for this recipe.
More substitutions: You can use supremed grapefruit instead of oranges, if you have those around. Or even feel free to use clementines, but instead of supreming them, simply peel and separate their segments. You can also use whatever kinds of olives you have—I just personally love Sicilian green olives (AKA, Castelvetrano olives), so I listed them here because I think they go the best. If you have romaine instead of kale, go ahead and use it, skipping the massaging step. If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, you can substitute about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon powdered garlic (to taste). The feta is hard to replace, but you can always skip it, especially if you’re vegan.