Meal Prep & Mason Jars! Two of my favorite things! Especially when it involves a tasty salad! Not only are mason jars totally cute, their vertical shape makes them especially nice for storing salads. Since the dressing is at the bottom of the jar, and the greens are at the top, nothing gets soggy! They’re also relatively inexpensive and can be purchased by the dozen at major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon.
Here are few tricks to keep in mind for creating the perfect mason jar salad:
Start with the dressing
Pour the dressing in first to coat the bottom of the jar. Dressings like vinaigrette work best. Thicker dressings can stick to the jar.
Layering is the key
The secret to a perfect mason jar salad is layering. The first ingredients you add are what create a barrier between the dressing and the lettuce, so add hearty ingredients that won’t soak up the liquid such as carrots, peppers, or beans.
When to add grains
None of the salads below contain grains, but that doesn’t mean yours shouldn’t. Whole grains keep well for several days and add flavor, texture, and fiber. Good choices are quinoa, brown rice, farro, and whole-grain pasta.
What about fruit?
Fresh fruits are delicious, but you’ll want to make sure to eat them sooner than later. Soak sliced fruits like apples and pears for a few minutes in salted water before adding them to the jar to prevent browning. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found in our recipe for Apple, Fennel, and Arugula Salad.
Pack layers tightly
You want as little air as possible between layers to help your salad stay fresh longer.
Greens go at the top
Remove as much moisture as possible from washed lettuce to prevent wilting. Pack your arugula, spinach, or other greens at the top of the jar. You’ll be surprised at how much you can fit in the small space.
Keep your jars upright
When storing or transporting, keep jars upright to prevent the dressing from reaching the greens.
How to eat it
Shake up your jar and then pour everything into a bowl and serve! In a pinch, you can eat straight from the jar, but it’s hard to mix everything well when it’s tightly packed.
Follow the steps above and you’ll find you can create a mason jar salad with any of your favorite ingredients. Here’s one to get you started!
You’ve heard to “eat the rainbow.” Well here’s why. The colors found in nature are each associated with different phytonutrients. By eating a wide range of them, you provide your body with a broad spectrum of nutrition. For instance, carrots and yellow bell are rich in beta-carotene, red peppers contain lycopene, and red cabbage has powerful antioxidant! Everything in this salad is packed with nutrition, but we just love how it tastes!
Rainbow Salad in a Mason Jar
Total Time: 20 min.
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cooking Time: None
Yield: 4 servings
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
2 cups chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chopped red cabbage
1 cup chopped cucumber
8 cups assorted salad greens (like mixed spring lettuce)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1. Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl; whisk to blend.
2. Season with salt and pepper if desired; mix well. Evenly divide dressing between 4 one-quart Mason jars. Set aside.
3. Evenly layer chickpeas, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, cucumber, salad greens, and sunflower seeds on top of dressing in jars.
4. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Shake before serving.