Salad in a jar is the ultimate prep, pack and pour lunch, picnic or BBQ side dish making for an easy, beautiful and delicious dish.
As we slowly say goodbye to the summer months we're often faced with the same urge to get back to basics and provide ourselves a fresh fall start like we do in January. One of the ways Philip and I transition into taking care of ourselves is getting back on a meal prep routine.
Since it's still warm out and the vegetables we've grown on our balcony are in full fruition, salad and more particularly, salad in a jar is the ultimate prep, pack and pour lunch dish perfect for easy and beautiful lunches.
The concept is pretty simple: start with dressing at the bottom of a mason jar and then layer various ingredients like greens, veggies, rice and cheese on top. Store your salads in the refrigerator, then turn over and serve on a plate allowing the dressing to cover the entire salad. In case you missed that, we've provided a bit more detail and tips on how to pack a salad in a jar, below.
Tip: when packing a salad in a jar start with the wet ingredients and finish with the dry ingredients. This will prevent a soggy salad.
How to Prepare a Salad in a Jar
1. Grab a Jar: mason jars are one of the mot valuable and versatile serving vessels in your kitchen. For a side salad or small lunch serving we recommend a 500ml jar and for a large lunch or two side dinner servings we recommend you double your recipe and use a 1L mason jar. Remember, depending on your ingredients, your salad is typically packed into the jar (the less air the better for storing).
2. Dressing: your dressing should always be the first into your mason jar so that when you flip it over to serve it's the final coating to hit your plate, dressing all your salad in a jar ingredients. Alternatively, you can skip the dressing and pack all of your salad ingredients, then pour your dressing over your salad once you serve out of the jar.
3. Marinade: if layering your dressing into the jar, a great tip is to use it as a marinade for any protein or vegetables that can hold it's form when dressed. For example, proteins like chicken, tofu or steak are an excellent second ingredient choice to sit in the dressing when packed that way when you serve your salad in a jar the meat or protein is more flavourful and punchy from the dressing.
4. Packing: the best tip to remember when packing a salad in a jar start with the wet ingredients and finish with the dry ingredients. Ingredients like tomatoes, cabbage, and cucumbers should be placed near the bottom, while dry ingredients like nuts, greens and beans should be placed near the top. If you're making salads with delicate ingredients like avocados or or boiled eggs you can wait to add those ingredients until the moment you plate your salad in a jar.
5. Storing and Serving: like any dish served a few days later, fresh ingredients are always key. Using fresh vegetables and proteins make all the difference with how long your salad in a jar recipes taste and how long they last for meal prep. We recommend no more than 2-3 days of storing your salads (upright, always) but this depends on the salad. Since salad in a jar recipes are easy to make and prep for school/work lunches there's no harm in making them twice a week to ensure freshness.
Fajita Salad in a Jar
Who doesn't love a good Mexican salad? With the flavours of a fajita including oven roasted chicken, fresh veggies like corn, tomatoes and bell peppers and a creamy lime-cilantro dressing, this is a salad in a jar that's far from a sad salad. Blend together yogurt, jalapeño, lime, cilantro and a sweet addition like honey for your dressing, place at the bottom of your jar and top with the chicken to further marinate your protein. Then finish with tomatoes, onion, corn, peppers and a heavy handful of romaine lettuce. Once plated, serve your salad with avocado.
Samosa Salad in a Jar
Inspired by Fresh City Farms, our Samosa Salad an amazing salad to bring for lunch or serve at a potluck as the ingredients don't need much refrigeration and is flavourful enough to impress. To make this salad, coat potatoes and chickpeas in Indian spices like curry, cumin and garam masala and bake in the oven until crisp. Then make the lime, cilantro and honey dressing and pack using remaining ingredients like shredded cabbage, carrots, peas, red onions and crisp potatoes and chickpeas. For our full Samosa Salad recipe click here.
Panzanella Salad in a Jar
Simple ingredients like bread, tomatoes and basil translates into the taste of summer and panzanella is one of our favourite salads to serve at a BBQ or picnic. What makes this an obvious choice for a salad in a jar is the whole ingredients that marinate together, and the longer they marinate the better the salad tastes. Our recipe includes toasted baguette, juicy tomatoes, fresh basil and a classic olive oil and vinegar dressing. Two ways to serve: pre-mix your ingredients and pack it in your jar (ideal for serving day of) or lay ingredients like previous salads (ideal for serving in a few days). Get our Fig Panzanella with Ricotta & Basil recipe here.
Tip: once you've added in the dressing, place your chopped tomatoes into the jar and sprinkle with salt to release even more tomato juice into the dressing.