Salad in a Jar
The idea of a salad in a jar has become increasingly popular over the past few years and makes the ideal “packed lunch”. The airtight jar keeps the salad fresh, it’s a reliable way to transport food, the majority of the salad can be prepared 5 days in advance and of course, it’s healthy and nutritious. But there is an art to compiling a salad to avoid a soggy mass of veggies. The size and shape of the mason jar is also important: choose a jar with a wide mouth and you need a size where your salad ingredients will be fairly well packed in to avoid all the layers becoming muddled. Glass is better for storage too as it seems to keep the salad fresher for longer.
Layering a Perfect Salad Jar
- Dressing: The first ingredient is the salad dressing and this is really a matter of personal preference. The more liquid dressings such as vinaigrette will allow the salad to come out of the jar easily, but any dressing you like.
- Hard veggies: These come next as they will be sitting in the dressing and won’t become soggy like lettuce would. Choose different vegetables each day, for example, carrots, peppers, beetroot, cucumber, fennel, cauliflower, broccoli, celery and onions.
- Legumes, grains, pasta: The layer of hard veggies will shield these more absorbent foods from the dressing. Any variety of bean – black, kidney, soya, broad, etc. There are many to choose from and are a good source of nutrition as well as being filling. Quinoa, rice, bulgar wheat or cous cous make great additions to salads as does pasta.
- Protein: If you are adding meat, fish, cheese or eggs, this is the place. Chicken, fresh tuna (thoroughly drain canned fish), smoked mackerel and prawns, for example. For ease when eating, chop everything up. You can crumble, shred, cube or grate cheese. Cubed tofu is a good vegetarian option.
- Softer veggies: Tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, green beans, corn, sprouts, eg, bean sprouts, alfalfa, mustard cress or fruits such as apple, strawberries or orange segments. This prevents them from being squashed as well as keeping them away from the dressing.
- Nuts & Seeds: Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds and pine nuts are my favourites. They add texture as well as valuable nutrients such as healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Greens: Finally, we get to the greens. There are plenty of varieties of salad leaves to choose from, but you could also try spinach, kale or watercress. Tear or shred and pack it in so that the layers stay in place.
You can start to prepare your salads for the week over the weekend and store in the fridge, but I’d add the ingredients listed from 4 to 7 on the morning you intend to eat the salad – it will only take an extra few minutes.
Serving a Salad Jar
If you can empty the jar onto a plate, tip the jar upside down for a moment to allow the dressing to filter through to the top layers and then empty out onto the plate. If you chose a thicker dressing, you may need to use a spoon to get it all out. If you can’t empty it out, give it a good shake and eat from the jar – another reason to get a wide jar. You will have a healthy, nutritious and filling lunch with minimum amount of effort and lots of variety.
Fruit Salad in a Jar
Put some yoghurt in the bottom of the jar and add layers of your favourite fruits. The advantage is that the fruit is prepared so less messy to eat and you don’t have to carry the yoghurt separately.