Picture Recipe
salad serving 4
Refreshing Springtime
Pressed Salad

Pressed salads
are a light, crisp, refreshing way to enjoy nutrient-packed vegetables and fruit. Flavors of the different ingredients mingle together through the pressing process creating a uniquely delicious taste. Because the ingredients have not been heated, they maintain a wonderful crunchy texture and the dish has a cooling effect on the body. Give it a zing by adding lemon or vinegar for a perfect springtime dish. But don't limit pressed salad to spring; it's a great dish for all seasons.

Why "press" a salad? squeezing salad 2

The hard fibers of vegetables can be rough on digestion and also keep us from absorbing some of the nutrients. The pressing process described below softens and starts to break down the fibers, plus there is a slight fermentation providing us with natural beneficial probiotics that aid in digestion and help strengthen natural immunity. In macrobiotics, we stress the importance of variety in ingredients and cooking styles, so try making a pressed salad at least twice a month. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, so you can make enough for a few servings per person.

Following are the instructions to create the pressed salad we made for our picture recipe

Servings: 6 to 8     

Time for involved prep:
15 to 20 minutes

Pressing time: Ours was 3 hours. You could press from as little as 45 minutes up to 5 hours


  • pressed salad ingredients
    Celery: 2 stalks, sliced lengthwise then sliced thinly.
  • Red Radish: 4 large radishes, first, slice in hall lengthwise, then, slice each half in half moons about 1/8 inch thick so a nice amount of the red peel shows.
  • Pear: Choose a firm pear, slice into pieces about 1/2 x 1/2 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick so a nice amount of the skin shows.
  • Carrot: About 3/4 cup sliced into fairly fine matchsticks.
  • Nappa cabbage: About 2 1/2 half cups of pieces (about 1 inch wide.)
  • Red Cabbage: About 3/4 cup, finely shredded
  • Scallions: 4 scallions but just use the green parts, finely sliced.
  • Ume vinegar: 2 tablespoons
  • Apple cider vinegar: 2 teaspoons
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice: 2 teaspoons

  • Vegetable cutting knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large mixing bowl
  • A plate that fits inside the mixing bowl but small enough to drop down in the bowl as the ingredients press and get reduce
  • Something to use as a weight on the plate that is OK to get wet and touch the vegetables as juice from the vegetables will probably come up onto the plate as they press. We used an eight cup mason jar filled with water. You could use the same size jar filled with beans, or a very clean heavy rock.
  • OPTIONAL: Instead of the bowl, plate and weight, you could use (or purchase if you don't have one) a commercial salad press, which has a spring press mechanism. Salad presses are sold at www.kushistore.com

Side view of sliced mixed ingredients
before pressing side view

  • Slice the vegetables and pear as per the instructions, place in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the ume vinegar and mix the ingredients again to mix the ume vinegar through.

Squeezing the ingredients
before pressing
squeezing salad
  • Grab a fistful of ingredients in each hand and gently squeeze and rub, using a "massaging" movement of your hands. Do not squeeze so hard it breaks the pear up. Release these ingredients and grab another fistful of ingredients from a different area of the bowl and repeat. Continue doing this until you feel the vegetables and pear get softer and see liquid coming out so the vegetables and pear are glistening. The vegetables and pear will go down in volume as you squeeze them.

  • Arrange the ingredients in the bowl so they are fairly level and flat on top; put the plate on top of the ingredients, and the weight on top of the plate. (Or put ingredients in a salad press and turn the knob until the press plate will not go down any more)
Plate and jar of water pressing the ingredients
weight pressing salad

  • Press from 1/2 hour to 3 hours. You could check at different times and see what the texture and taste is like.

After pressing

Compare to other photo (prior to pressing) at the top of the instructions section and
note how low ingredients are in the bowl now.
After pressing

Liquid from pressing process that
can be poured off, especially if it
is overly salty
showing liquid 1

  • When you are finished pressing, mix the ingredients again, then carefully pour off some or all of the liquid that has pressed out of the ingredients.

Pressed salad ready to serve
final pressed salad

  • Add the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Taste, and add more seasoning if desired. Now it's ready to serve.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator (will keep up to 3 days). You can make it the day before, which makes it a great dish for a party

An individual serving
salad serving 1

Want to make more pressed salads?

With this dish you can easily go ahead and be creative! By selecting a different number and type of ingredients you can create a delightful new experience each time you make it. As they say, variety is the spice of life!

Suggestions for ingredients to press include:
  • Any leafy green vegetable, any type of radish, any type of cabbage, celery, carrots, scallions, onions, leeks, turnip, rutabaga, ginger, and broccoli stems.
  • Mung bean sprouts or other sprouts
  • Firm fruits such as apples or pears
  • Fresh or dried herbs of your choice such as mint, dill, thyme, caraway seeds, etc
          Prepare a total of about 3 cups of raw ingredients to press.

General instructions:
  • Choose ingredients to be pressed and slice thinly or shred for head cabbage.
  • Mixed together in a bowl
  • Sprinkle good quality sea salt, (or an ingredient that contains sea salt such as ume vinegar, shoyu or tamari) over the ingredients. If you are using sea salt, a rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon for every 3 cups of sliced vegetables. You can also use miso, but it needs to be rubbed in. 
  • Mix the vegetables together again.
  • For a minute, take some of the ingredients in each hand and squeeze and rub (not too hard so that it would break more delicate ingredients like apples.) This helps to distribute the salt ingredient through the salad and starts to break down the fibers. As you do this, you will notice the ingredients glistening as water starts to be expelled, and some of the vegetables, especially the green vegetables, will quickly reduce in size.
  • You are ready to either: 
    • Keep them in the same mixing bowl (glass or ceramic preferred) and put a plate on top (small enough to go down in the bowl as the ingredients reduce in volume) and a heavy weight such as a large, eight cup jar of water or a very clean heavy rock OR
    • Place them in a salad press and apply pressure OR
    • Place them in a ceramic crock with a plate that fits easily inside the crock and a weight on top (as above)
  • Press for 1/2 hour or more, at least until you see a volume of liquid has come out of the ingredients. 
  • At the end of the pressing, drain off excess liquid
  • Taste, and if too salty rinse a bit with water
  • Fluff up and serve as is, or add and mix in one or more of the following:
    • Sea vegetables that don't need to be cooked like chopped dulse or soaked and chopped wakame
    • Seasonings like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar rice vinegar, mirin, or other seasonings of choice.
Pictures and recipe by Mirea Ellis