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Dressing Romaine Salad in Advance?

So normally when we take salads to work for lunch, we bring separate little tupperwares for dressing so that we can add it at the last minute. This is usually a pain because our tupperware selection means either we take a bulky jar or a small tupperware that invariably leaks. Nevertheless, we make it work when we have to. Tomorrow, however, I made a salad with romaine lettuce, green beans, and cannellini beans. I was going to do just lemon and juice and olive oil as the dressing. I'm thinking that since romaine is a sturdier lettuce and there is nothing too delicate in the salad, maybe I can get away with dressing it in the morning before we leave? It would sit in the dressing for just 4 or so hours in that case. Do you think that it will still turn out soggy, or would this be okay?

ETA: Also looking for recommendations for small, leak-proof containers in which to transport salad dressing to work :)

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  1. While romaine is a sturdier green for sure than say, a butter lettuce, I would be concerned that the acid from the lemon juice would do a number on it over 4hrs. If you like kale, it holds up to being dressed ahead of time fantastically.

    As far as dressing containers go, I've use these Rubbermaid containers.
    I've also used small baby food jars.

    1. What about dressing with olive oil and then squeezing a wedge of lemon over it just before you eat?

      1. First off, I'd just accept that dressing a green salad just before serving is part of what you have to deal with. Dressing ahead of time is a bad idea.

        One thing my mom does is seal whatever container she uses for the dressing inside a ziplock bag. That means two levels of protection against leakage, which seems to work. Much like washing your car makes it rain, sealing your dressing inside a leakproof bag keeps it from leaking in the first place.

        1. Just put the dressing in a separate container and dress about 10 min. before you want to eat it.

          1. I'm okay with slightly limp greens so I would do it. Have you thought of keeping a small bottle of olive oil and vinegar at work?

            18 Replies
              1. re: monavano

                I have VERY limited kitchen supplies here -- there isn't even a kitchen sink anywhere (I work in a hospital) so I'm limited to plasticware, otherwise I would keep more stuff to prep myself. But because of the set-up I try to prep as much as possible at home. As for leaving a bottle of olive oil and vinegar -- I tend to use different dressings for different salads (some days a homemade buttermilk ranch, other days a vinaigrette, some days I feel like garlic, some days not), so that probably won't help me that much. But definitely new, less leak-prone tupperwares will help!

                1. re: arielleeve

                  I saw Barefoot Contessa make a salad with dressing ahead of time. She put the dressing on the bottom and placed the lettuce on top, then tossed it before serving.
                  It might work in tupperware.

                  1. re: monavano

                    That's pretty cool. I never would have thought of that. Thanks, that's an awesome tip.

                    1. re: monavano

                      Yes, I was thinking that -- was too late for me since I had already divvied everything up in containers, but will definitely consider for next time. I've seen that episode!

                      1. re: monavano

                        Pinterest has ideas for doing this in mason jars.

                        Recently I brought soup to work and used press and seal wrap under the lid and it worked very well.

                        1. re: monavano

                          I will sometimes make mason jar salads and know others who do it daily and the method is always to pour the dressing on the bottom then layer the ingredients by weight and it works great. Here's a link with instructions http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-pack-...

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            I would totally do that were it not for the fact that I have no kitchen and therefore no plates at my office. I could use disposable ones if I wanted to, but it's hard to justify that level of waste when I can easily eat straight from my lunch container.

                            1. re: arielleeve

                              What's stopping you from eating the salad (once tossed in the jar) out of the jar directly?

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  Good point, just wouldn't be as easy to eat, I guess.

                            2. re: monavano

                              yes! this idea is all over pinterest too - though i hate the site, this is one of the best things i've seen. dressing on bottom, toppings in the middle, last is veggies & lettuce. i've seen it done in mason jar; when it's time to eat, turn it upside down and shake!

                              1. re: cozylummox

                                Pinterest as a whole is rather depressing but I do enjoy how user friendly it is for me for organizing my saved recipes which I used to Google Bookmark.

                                1. re: melpy

                                  Depressing? Just curious. I also use it to save recipes in a central place.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    i definitely agree that it's great for saving recipes. I should clarify and say that what I hate is logging in and and being bombarded with hardcore pics of "cheesy broccoli mac & cheese EASY 5 steps!!" "chewy chocolate peanutbutter white salted caramel shortbread pretzel doughnut cupcake bites!!!" "crock pot chicken buffalo ranch cheesy zucchini!!" "HEALTHY cheezy pizza bite bake crumbles!"

                                    maybe i'm being a snob, but most people have gross taste in food.

                                    1. re: cozylummox

                                      HA! have you dipped into the waters of the "weird party foods" thread? :O

                        2. I take my salad dressing separately and dress my salad just before I eat it. The best containers that I have found for transporting the dressing -- i.e., least likely to leak -- are Rubbermaid products:
                          1. The "easy find lid" container in the .5 cup size, http://www.rubbermaid.com/Category/Pa...
                          2. The small size "twist & seal" containers (1 cup?) from the Takealong line, http://www.rubbermaid.com/Category/Pa...

                          Regardless, I always place the container with the salad dressing inside the larger container with the salad so that, if the dressing leaks at all, it will leak onto the salad.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: masha

                            The screw on topped plastic containers work very well for liquids.

                          2. I have been sending a lunch w/ my bf for eight years and i always put the dressing in the small plastic cups they give you for dressing to go. I just save them and wash them. Never had a complaint from te man yet.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: suzigirl

                              You can also get them in bulk at restaurant supply stores in any size from .5oz-3oz. The only thing that bothered me was the waste (I didn't reuse them), which is why I got the Rubbermaid containers.

                              1. re: ohmyyum

                                I wash them sumbitches til they crack. I mooch them off of a couple of restaurants near me so they are free. I'm cheap, what can i say?

                              2. re: suzigirl

                                They don't leak? That would be my concern, or that the lid would fall off. Since I commute via subway and my lunch gets shoved in a stuffed bag, I want something durable...definitely the small tupperwares seem like they might be the best option.

                                1. re: arielleeve

                                  When I pack the salad I put the dressing cup right in the container just in case. It will leak on the salad in that case, but it hasn't happened. But if your heart is set on Tupperware, get it. They last for years.

                                  1. re: arielleeve

                                    Ps don't buy them online. They are much less expensive at target!

                                  2. re: suzigirl

                                    I rarely buy salads to go so I don't get the cups all that often. And, I find them a tad small (I pack large salads) and the lids are not nearly as secure as the Rubbermaid containers.

                                    1. re: masha

                                      True. Tupperware is more durable. Just stating how I do lunchbox salad 101 for my household.

                                  3. I'm retired now but I used to take lunch in Rubbermaid containers, none of which ever leaked. Much easier to eat out of a shallow, straight-sided container than a jar. The dressing in the 4oz Rubbermaid containers never leaked either. If you are not averse to generating a bit of trash, you can put the dressing into a snack-sized plastic bag that zips closed. Put it into the container with the salad, so if it leaks it is contained. Put any croutons or accompanying crackers into a second snack bag which can also ride along in the container.

                                    1. For dressing containers - I will save small jars and lids when I empty them - the kind you'd buy mustard chili paste in, the smaller the better. I find they don't leak the way plastic dishes can if the lid shifts, you can shake up the dressing in the jar, and the metal/glass combo is easier to clean than plastic.

                                      Otherwise, I use the smallest size of lock-n-lock container.

                                        1. Just put the dressing into the container and place the salad greens on top. Don't mix until you're ready to eat. Only the bottom leaves are in contact withe the dressing so most of the salad stays crisp. Obviously you'll still need a leak-proof container and make sure you keep the salad upright while transporting.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Nyleve

                                            I'm also thinking, along this idea, just to put a large piece of romaine leaf over the dressing, as a sacrificial leaf to keep the rest from getting soggy.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              I will often do something like this even at home when I want to prepare a salad ahead of time. Large bowl, dressing at the bottom, cover with Saran and into the fridge. A great trick for entertaining when you don't want to futz around with lots of little dishes at the last minute.

                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                If I dress a salad, I pour each onto it and taste as I mix because I don't get the ratios right if I make dressing on its own. If I do mix liquids in advance and don't have a good container, I'm a big fan of Glad Press and Seal. I'm always surprised at how well it works, even when cups spill.

                                            2. re: Nyleve

                                              Apparently I'm the only person on earth who didn't know about this.

                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                Eluded me, also, Jon. I frequently bring my "death by garlic" Caesar salad to friends' dinners, in 4 separate containers - lettuce, dressing, shaved parmesan, and croutons.

                                            3. I save small glass sample size jelly jars for this purpose. I have picked them up usually at green market - sometimes for free, sometimes for $1-$2. They have a screw top and never leak.

                                              1. i use small drink containers with a screw-on lid. i didn't like traveling with glass and if using public transport, the lunch bag doesn't stay all that still when you get jostled. a layered approach might work better if you travel by car.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  Just put the dressing in a small ziploc and snip off a corner & squeeze when ready.

                                                  1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                    Fair enough, but wasteful. Kind of goes against some of the 'green points' one gets for brown-bagging in the first place, no?

                                                2. I make my lunch salads in a mason jar much as others have described above. Dressing at the bottom and vegetables layered on top with enough head space left that I can shake the container to toss my salad in the dressing. I just eat it straight from the jar.

                                                  Another co-worker who is a salad fan uses a large Ziploc bowl full of salad with an XS bowl of dressing on top of the greens. I prefer to use the mason jar because it can stand upright in my briefcase, whereas the Ziploc bowls require a larger bag.

                                                  1. The solution is so simple its funny.
                                                    One container.
                                                    On bottom of tupperware put dressing.
                                                    Ontop of dressing layer the chopped veggies, beans, and "stuff". This makes a barrier between the dressing and green leaves.
                                                    Top the "stuff" layer with greens.
                                                    Ontop of greens add cheese/seeds/croutons.

                                                    Travel with container upright, and at meal time shakeshakeshakeshakeshake and you have a dressed tossed salad.

                                                    One container. Not soggy. Almost took four minutes to make this morning.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                      "Travel with container upright." Excellent, if you commute by car and have a large bag with a flat bottom which allows you to place the container securely. What do you recommend for those who travel by public transit, or bike, or those who walk or travel by car but have a bag which requires their container to be shoved in awkwardly, sideways?

                                                      1. re: mdzehnder

                                                        Well, i live in nyc. My tupperware is a tall regtangle manages to be just fine after getting shoved in the bottom of my handbag, biking 20blocks, being thrown over my shoulder while in the bag, going up and down several flights of stairs.......
                                                        Ideally it would not be jostled as much. Mine is daily- no problems.

                                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                          Do you have a picture/link to this container? Sounds useful, and not like anything I have currently. Spatially, would it be similar to using a mason jar?

                                                          1. re: mdzehnder

                                                            What i use is a generic version of this one, my big handbag is a similar shape to a tote so it stays upright once my bag is filled with the rest of my stuff-

                                                    2. This is weird. I thought my response would be at the bottom (latest), but instead it replaces the comments I praised, and those went to the bottom! That is, the comments by Ttrockwood and jungmann, which I was referring to when I wrote:
                                                      I think the 1st 2 responses answered arielleeve's question quite well. I save glass containers and reuse them. Here in México, it would be a plastic sandwich bag (not ziplock) tied in a knot at the top. Leakproof! That's how you get your salsa when you order home delivery of carne asada or whatever. I worry about all the plastic that gets thrown away here, but you CAN reuse that baggie!

                                                      1. I save a tiny jars with screw on lids and, as was mentioned, then put in a zipping bag. I travel this way and rarely have a problem. Most recent addition is an old horseradish jar.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. In this particular case, dress the beans with a bit extra and take the lettuce separately...perhaps in a zip-lock. Toss at work (in the bean container or zip-lock bag)