Lake days go swimmingly with make-ahead meals


Warm weather is finally here! It’s time to load up the car and head to the lake with some simple, make-ahead dishes. I have a Kale Salad with Cranberry Dressing, so you can serve your crew something healthy. My flavorful Ginger Pasta Salad is a refreshing side on a summer day; it can double as a main course if you add chopped chicken.

My Turkey & Ham Sandwiches with Curry Mayonnaise and Apples are perfect to pack for a day out on the water. I’ve also included a breakfast Taco Casserole, so you can have a hearty meal before heading out for the day (leftovers are great for lunch). Enjoy!

Kale Salad with Cranberry Dressing
Makes 4-6 servings.

Kale Salad with Cranberry Dressing

Cranberry dressing:

2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup water, boiling
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


7 cups kale, washed, patted dry and thinly sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 pint blackberries or raspberries
1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles
 1/2 cup pecan halves

For dressing: Place dried cranberries in boiling water, and set aside for 5 minutes. When cranberries have plumped, remove with a spoon, and add to food processor with 3 tablespoons of water. Add remaining dressing ingredients to food processor, and pulse until smooth.

For salad: Thoroughly toss kale with salad dressing, and
refrigerate for 12 hours or more. Toss with remaining salad ingredients just
before serving. (You can add cucumber and onion in advance, but not berries,
goat cheese or pecans.)
Note: If you substitute another green, do not dress salad until time to serve.

Ginger Pasta Salad

Makes 6 or more servings.


2/3 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 small white onion
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 1/2  tablespoons  sugar 
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
3/4 cup canola oil, divided 
Salt and pepper


2 1/3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
1 1/4 cups carrots, shredded
3 green onions, sliced
1 large cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Almonds or peanuts, chopped (optional)

For dressing: Place carrots, ginger and onion in food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds. Add soy sauce, sugar and rice wine vinegar, and pulse until somewhat smooth. Add canola oil 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta; run under cold water until cool. Toss pasta with carrots, green onions, cucumber and cilantro. Add 3/4 of ginger dressing, and mix until combined. Refrigerate until time to serve. Just before serving, toss with remaining dressing and nuts, if desired.

Taco Casserole
Makes 10 servings.

Kale Salad with Cranberry Dressing

1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning Cooking spray
4 cups frozen, shredded hash browns
Salt and pepper
12 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 1/4 cups salsa
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Heat oven to 375.
In a skillet, cook ground beef with taco seasoning, as if making tacos, according to package directions. Set aside.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Spread hash browns over bottom, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (note: this is not the measured salt and pepper). In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk and measured salt and pepper. Stir in salsa. Pour egg mixture evenly over hash browns. Spread ground beef, green pepper and onion over egg layer. Stir slightly to combine. Top with cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Note: Casserole can also be assembled and refrigerated overnight and baked the next day.

Turkey & Ham Sandwiches with Curry Mayonnaise and Apples
Makes 4 sandwiches.

Turkey & Ham Sandwiches with Curry Mayonnaise and Apples

Curry mayonnaise:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, minced
1 tablespoon red onion, minced


1 baguette or 2 demi baguettes (or preferred rustic bread)
1 pound smoked deli turkey
1/2 pound deli ham
2 Fuji apples (or another firm, sweet variety), thinly sliced

Prepare curry mayonnaise by stirring together all ingredients in a bowl; refrigerate mixture. It is best to make mayonnaise at least 2 hours in advance; it will keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

If bread is not fresh from a bakery, toast it briefly before making sandwich.

Slice baguette in half, and spread on curry mayonnaise. Layer ham, turkey, apples and lettuce on bread. Close and cut into four sandwiches; wrap separately.

Note: Keep sandwiches chilled.

Juliana Goodwin

Juliana Goodwin is a food columnist, cookbook author and avid traveler. If you have a question, email julianalovesfood23