Shortly after I shared my post, Overnight Oatmeal and Granola Parfait, a good friend asked me when was I going to do a post on how to make a salad in a jar. After all, I had clearly embraced the whole concept of preparing food in a mason jar so it seemed like the logical next step.
I have to admit I was skeptical about the idea. I honestly didn’t think you could pack a salad, including the dressing, in a jar and have it stay fresh for several days without becoming a soggy mess. But I decided it was worth my time to experiment a bit and see whether it could work. I figured if it was a total flop I could at least share my experience and save you the trouble of trying it out yourself. So I began experimenting. I carefully followed the instructions in this post to assemble my salad and packed it away in the refrigerator for lunch the next day. I wanted to see how it would be after sitting overnight.
It certainly looked pretty!
After making my salad with so much care, I found myself looking forward to trying it out the next day for lunch. As I began to shake the jar to remove the greens (you may need to give it a little poke with a fork to get it all out), I could see that everything remained fresh and as it tumbled out the veggies and greens mixed together with the dressing creating the perfect salad. I was astonished at how well it all came together and it tasted every bit as good as it looked. Since that day, I have made many more salads in a jar and kept them for several days in the refrigerator with the same excellent results. I find that the key is to cover your salad dressing with a hard vegetable to keep the moisture away from the other ingredients. Carrots are my preferred choice and work extremely well.
So I am happy to share with you that my salad in a jar experiment was a complete success and you can check out the recipe below for instructions on how to do it yourself. One interesting side note, I find that when I am assembling a salad in a jar I take more care to include a variety of different vegetables, beans, greens, nuts and grains, as opposed to when I am just throwing a salad together in a bowl. Perhaps it is because I want to make sure that my jar is assembled correctly so it stays fresh, or maybe as I am filling my jar I am giving greater thought to how it looks so I add lots of different colors and textures. Either way, when I eat my jar salad I come much closer to eating the colors of the rainbow, which is a very good thing!
Of course, I can’t leave without sharing a few of the health benefits of eating dark leafy green vegetables. Dark leafy green vegetables are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They are also loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The benefits of consuming dark leafy greens include strengthening the immune system, reducing inflammation, preventing cancer, boosting digestion and maintaining eye health. To learn more about the top 9 leafy greens you should be eating, check out this post.
For someone who loves to prepare meals ahead of time, this technique is a dream come true. My husband is already taking these salads to work for lunch and with spring and summer just around the corner, I have big plans to take salads in a jar along with me on picnics, to the beach and even to family gatherings once I get myself some of the extra-large mason jars. I hope you try making your own salad in a jar – Enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- a selection of raw and cooked vegetables (I used carrots, mushrooms and peppers)
- beans (I used chick peas)
- cooked grains or pasta (I used quinoa)
- cheese, cooked chicken, tofu, hardboiled eggs or other protein sources
- fresh and/or dried fruit
- nuts or seeds (I used shelled hemp seeds)
- salad greens (I used a spring mix containing a blend of baby greens and some red mustard micro greens)
- anything else you like to add to your salad
- pint-sized mason jars for side salads
- quart-sized mason jars for individual meal-sized salads
- 2-quart mason jars or larger for multiple servings
- Combine the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Gradually add the olive oil and mix until smooth and well combined.
- Pour the salad dressing into the bottom of the jar. You can adjust the amount based on the size of the salad and your personal preference.
- Add some hard chopped vegetables like carrots, peppers, mushrooms and cucumbers. Don't skip this part - these vegetables will protect the rest of you salad from the moisture from the dressing.
- Add beans (such as chickpeas or black beans), cooked grains (such as quinoa or brown rice) or cooked pasta.
- If you will be eating the salad the same day, add cheese, chicken, tofu, hardboiled eggs or another protein source of your liking. If you are making the salad ahead, add these ingredients to the top of the jar the day you plan to eat the salad.
- If you will be eating the salad the same day, add softer vegetables and fruit like tomatoes, avocados or strawberries. If you are making the salad ahead, add these ingredients to the top of the jar the day you plan to eat the salad.
- Add any nuts or seeds such as shelled hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds or cashews.
- Last but not least, add your salad greens! Your salad greens should take up about half of the jar.
- Make sure to pack your salad tightly. You want to keep all of the ingredients separate until you are ready to shake things up and eat your salad.
- Screw the lid tightly on to the jar.
- Keep your salad in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- If you are transporting your salad, be careful not to tip the jar over. You don't want the dressing to mix with the other ingredients until you are ready to eat your salad.
- When you are ready to eat your salad, take off the lid and shake the salad into a bowl (you may need to help it along with a fork). The act of shaking the salad should do a good job of mixing the dressing throughout.