Mason Jar Salads - Portable and Jam Packed with Nutrition
A new idea for grab & go lunches, prep ahead dinners or healthy portable meals to take to the park, local beach or favourite park bench. Enjoy the summer weather and meet up safely with family and friends.
Mason jar salads, a great way to optimize your intake of vegetables and whole foods, use up leftovers and prepare meals ahead to save time and money. If assembled properly using this layering technique and proper jars, these salads stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days.
Any glass mason jar or container (that is tall and skinny) with a tight fitting lid can be used; as long as the seal is air tight, the key for maintaining freshness. Choose the right size jar for your salad, small for a side salad (500 ml jar) and up to 1 litre jar for a dinner salad or larger lunch. Wide-mouthed jars are the easiest for both packing and shaking the salad out when serving.
Make assembly easy by prep the ingredients first. On a day you have more time, chop your veggies, cook the protein and the grains if needed, wash and spin the salad greens, make your dressing. Wanting to add leftovers or other different types of protein during the week? Add to the top of the jar the night before.
STRATEGY FOR ASSEMBLY
Layer 1: Start with the Dressing
At the bottom of a wide mouth mason jar, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing. Homemade dressing tastes the best and also the healthiest. Low sodium vinaigrettes or use some salsa, thinned hummus or pesto. Dressing on the bottom will prevent the lettuce and softer veggies from getting mushy.
Layer 2: Add the Hard Veggies and Fruit
This layer is important to protect the dressing from the lettuce and other ingredients that easily soak up the dressing or get soggy. Use vegetables that hold up for a number of days - ones that are less porous, firmer or have a skin on the outside.
Layer 3: Beans (other Legumes), Tofu, Chicken, Meats and other Softer Vegetables and Fruits
This layer is where you will put beans and other proteins, less hearty vegetables. I’ll let you figure that out. If you are using an avocado or other fruits that oxidize easily, it is probably best to add this the day eaten. This layer acts as a second defence between the dressing and greens, but perfectly fine if some of the ingredients get exposed (extra marinating and flavour).
Layer 4: Pasta and Grain Layer
This next layer is where you can add pasta or other whole grains if using. For grains you can use barley, farrow, brown rice, whole wheat couscous, bulgur or quinoa. Or skip the starchy pasta and grain and just add more veggies!
Layer 5: Other Proteins & Cheese (optional)
Eggs, fish, shrimp and cheeses go well in this layer. For cheese - crumble a little feta cheese, goat cheese, blue cheeses or sprinkle a little parmesan or grate your favourite hard cheese.
Layer 6: Greens, Nuts and Seeds
Now jam pack the top layer of your jar with your favourite greens - Romaine, mixed greens, arugula, baby spinach, Sweet Kale mix or chopped cabbage. Push those veggies down to get in as much as you can. Packing your jar firmly will prevent shifting of ingredients. Sprinkle with nuts / seeds or add cooked vegetables here if using. Store in the fridge and keep upright until eating.
When you're ready to eat, give your mason jar a good shake to mix the dressing, then flip the jar over to pour the salad into a bowl or plate. Wallah - a salad in perfect order; lettuce on the bottom and all the other colourful ingredients piled high on the top.
How beautiful and tasty is that : )