3 recipes that get better with time

This time of year, our appetites once again awaken to the delicious freshness of salads. And, as plant-based eating grows in popularity, the humble salad is, more and more often, finding its place at the center of the table.

These hearty and filling salads packed with vibrant veggies, proteins, and whole grains can be prepped early for an easy meal to come.

Asparagus Niçoise with Pesto Dressing

Typically a composed salad, Niçoise also works as a toss-ahead option for people who live for texture in their salad bowl.

4 large eggs
1 lb (450 g) baby “new” potatoes
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 2 in (5 cm) pieces
2 cups (500 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup (250 mL) Peppadew peppers, halved (or roasted red peppers)
1/3 cup (80 mL) halved Niçoise or Kalamata olives
1 Tbsp (15 mL) capers, drained
1/4 cup (60 mL) prepared basil pesto
2 Tbsp (30 mL) red wine vinegar

In medium saucepan, bring 1 in (2.5 cm) water to a boil. Add steamer basket to pan and place eggs in basket in a single layer. In medium bowl, place ice cubes and water. Steam eggs for 15 minutes and then immediately transfer eggs into bowl filled with ice water. Let rest for 20 minutes. Peel eggs and slice eggs in half.

In large pot of cold water, place potatoes and then bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) salt to boiling water and boil potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes, just until potatoes are fork-tender.

With slotted spoon, remove potatoes from pot and set aside in colander to drain. In medium bowl, place ice cubes and water. Add asparagus to pot and simmer until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove asparagus from water and immediately place in ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain well.

Slice cooked and cooled potatoes in half. In large bowl, add sliced potatoes, eggs, asparagus, tomatoes, Peppadew peppers, olives, and capers; gently toss everything together. Stir together pesto and red wine vinegar. Toss with salad.

Make ahead:

Salad contents can be tossed together and kept chilled in airtight container for up to 3 days. Prepared eggs can be added to salad just before serving to ensure whites and yolks don’t separate during mixing. Eggs can be hard-cooked and chilled still in their shells for up to 5 days.

Serves 4.

Each serving contains: 315 calories; 13 g protein; 14 g total fat (3 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 36 g total carbohydrates (11 g sugars, 8 g fiber); 427 mg sodium

Quinoa Taco Salad

Your #mealprepgoals just got easier to nail. Quinoa, black beans, and tempeh provide a triple threat of plant-based protein in this large taco-style salad that holds up remarkably well.

1 lb (450 g) sweet potato, cut into 1 in (2.5 cm) cubes
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (30 mL + 10 mL) grapeseed oil or sunflower oil, divided
2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt, divided
1 cup (250 mL) quinoa
1 – 7 oz (200 g) pkg tempeh, crumbled
2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder
1 cup (250 mL) packed cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1/3 cup (80 mL) sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp (10 mL) honey or agave syrup
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cumin powder
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups (500 mL) cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) black beans
1 cup (250 mL) diced red onion
2 cups (500 mL) halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted pumpkin seeds

Heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Toss sweet potato with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil, oregano, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Spread out on rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

In medium saucepan, place quinoa, 1 3/4 cups (435 mL) water, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes and then fluff quinoa with fork.

In skillet over medium, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) oil. Add tempeh and chili powder; heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until browned.

In blender, combine cilantro, jalapeño, sour cream, lime juice, 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil, agave or honey, garlic, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

In large bowl, toss together sweet potato, quinoa, tempeh, black beans, red onion, tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds. Add cilantro dressing and toss together.

Make ahead:

All contents of this salad can be chilled together in airtight container for up 3 days. Any optional toppings, such as avocado, should be added just before serving.

Serves 5.

Each serving contains: 488 calories; 22 g protein; 17 g total fat (3 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 66 g total carbohydrates (8 g sugars, 12 g fiber); 374 mg sodium

Roasted Rainbow Trout and Strawberry Salad

The idea is simple: start with adding a dressing to a jar and then layer on various ingredients such as crisp veggies, buttery fish, and greens. Wild salmon or Arctic char are good stand-ins for rainbow trout.

1 lb (450 g) rainbow trout fillets
1 1/2 cups (350 mL) fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
2 Tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) honey
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried red chili flakes
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced radishes
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups (500 mL) cooked green or black lentils
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced basil
8 cups (2 L) baby spinach or other salad greens
1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Season trout with salt and pepper and place skin side down on parchment paper- or silicone sheet-lined baking sheet. Bake fish for 15 minutes, or until just barely cooked through in the thickest part of flesh. Let rest for 5 minutes, then break apart flesh into 2 in (5 cm) chunks. Alternatively, you can prepare the trout on an outdoor grill.

In blender container, place strawberries, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, garlic, chili flakes, salt, and pepper; blend until smooth.

To serve immediately, among 4 salad bowls, divide radishes, cucumber, bell pepper, lentils, basil, baby spinach, trout, and goat cheese. Toss gently together and drizzle dressing overtop each.

Make ahead:

Divide strawberry dressing among 4 large-mouth 24 oz (3 cup) Mason-style jars. Layer in radishes, cucumber, bell pepper, trout, lentils, basil, baby spinach, and goat cheese, in that order. Seal shut with lids and chill for up to 3 days.

To serve, simply pour contents of jar into a bowl. If needed, scrape out any remaining dressing from bottom of jar.

Serves 4.

Each serving contains: 492 calories; 44 g protein; 20 g total fat (7 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 34 g total carbohydrates (9 g sugars, 13 g fiber); 462 mg sodium