Meal-Prep House Salad & Homemade Thousand Island Dressing is a perfect, ready-made side dish for busy weeknights.
Happy Friday! If you’re in the US, you’re probably planning what to do during your long Memorial Day weekend. We’ll be having a cookout.
I’m one of those people (strange, I know) who looks for salad in a cookout spread. And, by “salad,” I mean something with actual leafy greens—not one of those heinous creations involving both Jell-O AND mayonnaise.
But sometimes it’s nice to have lighter options as well.
The great thing about this salad is that everything is meal-prepped and in its own container already…so why not pack it into the cooler and take it with you for your potluck or cookout? Trust me, there WILL be people who are relieved to find a healthy side dish among all the calorie bombs.
Making Meal-Prep House Salad & Thousand Island Dressing
Sure, you could buy pre-washed salad-greens-in-a-bag to make this salad. But you pay extra for that convenience! It’s just a little extra work to do it yourself.
I like Romaine or butter lettuce for this salad, but you can use any variety you like. If the leaves have thick ribs, remove them and save to make vegetable stock (like in my Instant Pot Vegetable Pho Noodle Soup).
Whenever I get home from the grocery, I chop, wash, and dry my lettuce right away. Sometimes I store it right in the salad spinner, but zip-top bags work just as well.
I like to use English or other seedless cucumbers. For tomatoes, use whatever’s fresh and actually smells like a tomato. We like Romas, but also frequently use whole grape or cherry tomatoes. Finally, sliced scallions and grated carrot round out the basic salad.
Feel free to add whatever you like to your house salad. I adore marinated artichoke hearts; the hubster likes pepperoncini. You could sprinkle the salad with grated cheese. Croutons are an obvious yummy addition: homemade are a zillion times better than the dense, fried things at the grocery (see how to make your own croutons here).
The thousand island dressing
Making your own dressing is so easy—and so much healthier than what you’ll find in a jar. Fat-free options always have added sugar, for example. For this recipe, we use sweet pickle relish and Vidalia onion to cut the tang of the fat-free yogurt. I add sriracha to my thousand island dressing for a bit of a kick, but this is optional.
You could also offer a vinaigrette dressing in your DIY salad buffet. You can find a few options in The Easiest Dressing: Vinaigrette.
Traveling with your house salad
If I’m taking my salad and fixings to a cookout, I pack everything up in a cooler. Don’t forget to bring a salad bowl, spoons for all the add-ons and dressings, and salad tongs (obvo, the plates and utensils for guests, too!). Keep everything cold until you’re ready to serve. Then set it all out buffet-style and let guests serve themselves!
Kids and salads
It’s funny. Our youngest thoroughly hates all vegetable matter. I discovered, though, that if the kids all understand that they must eat some salad, BUT that they can make it any way they like from our “DIY salad bar,” they actually eat more salad than if Phil or I were to serve the mandatory blop of salad FOR them.
That’s all there is to it! I hope having a ready-made salad at your fingertips makes your life easier at dinner time.
Meal-Prep House Salad & Thousand Island Dressing
- salad spinner
FOR THE SALAD (see Recipe Note #1)
- 1 head Romaine lettuce - washed, dried, and chopped into bite-size pieces
- 2 cups English cucumber - sliced
- 2 cups tomatoes - chopped (see Recipe Note #2)
- 2 cups scallions - sliced
- 1 cup carrot - grated
FOR THE THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING
- ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 3 tsp Vidalia onion - finely minced (or other sweet onion)
- 2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
- ⅛ tsp coarse salt - (or to taste)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp sriracha - (optional)
FOR THE SALAD
- Refrigerate the prepped lettuce in a zip-top bag (or keep it in a salad spinner). Refrigerate each of the other prepped toppings in its own airtight container. If you're bringing the salad to a cookout or potluck, transport it in a cooler.
FOR THE THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING
- Mix all ingredients in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated until use (for up to a week).
- Other options you might like on your salad are grated cheese, pepperoncini (or other peppers), marinated artichoke hearts, and croutons (see, for example, my recipe for homemade croutons here). If you're making a meal out of the salad, you could also add cubed ham or salami.
- We like Roma tomatoes, but use whatever is fresh. Heirlooms would be good, or opt for whole grape or cherry tomatoes.