Mason Jar Salads


Mason Jar Salads 3 together

New Twists on a Familiar Theme

-Alice Osborne

The familiar theme? Salads served up in a salad bowl. The new twist? Layered, sog-free salad in a canning jar! This isn’t just a cute idea—it’s actually a very practical and a healthy, on-the-go lunch option, and you can use the same jar every day until the end of time (or until it gets dropped and breaks). So if you or a member of your family pack a lunch, you’ll love this new twist!

Necessity was the mother of my invention. I learned the hard way that pre-dressed greens quickly turn soggy. So I got into the habit of bringing a separate container of dressing along when I’d pack green salad for picnics or for brown-bagging at work. But about two years ago, after some experimenting, I figured out a more convenient way of packing salad by taking a layered approach using a wide-mouthed quart-size canning jar. The cylindrical shape of the jar is perfect for layering and the tight seal keeps the veggies nice and fresh.

First, let’s look at the typical tossed salad choice. I add my chosen dressing to the bottom of my jar, then all chopped vegetables (those I have on hand, which are usually tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, celery, mushrooms, and bell peppers). Next, I top it all off with a layer of greens and cover the jar. Just prior to serving, I give the container a good shake to mix everything up.

Three things I’ve discovered about this salad approach: 1) You don’t want to pack the jar too tightly—space is needed for the dressing to thoroughly coat the fixings. 2) While it is possible to eat the salad straight from the jar, it’s less messy and easier if you pour the salad either into a bowl or onto a plate. And 3) just about any salad works with this canning jar method.

For instance, how about those popular cold pasta salads? One of my favorites calls for artichokes and tortellini. The recipe I use makes enough for 5 people (5 quarts-worth) and takes only about 20 minutes to prepare (plus 8 minutes for the tortellini to cook). And what is really nice about this recipe is that these salad jars can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. This has been an exceptional recipe for taking on picnics. Here’s the recipe:

ARTICHOKE and TORTELLINI CANNING JAR SALAD (serves 5)

Ingredients

5 quart-size wide-mouth canning jars

2-3 tablespoons Italian dressing per jar, or to taste

1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, chopped

2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, cut in half

4 ounces dried cheese filled tortellini; cooked according to package directions

8 ounces feta or freshly grated Parmesan cheese

5 cups bagged spinach salad (or other baby greens—arugula, etc.)

Directions

Place dressing in each jar. Then divide remaining prepared ingredients evenly among the jars: tomatoes first, then onion, artichokes, tortellini, cheese, and finishing with spinach. When ready to eat, give the salad a shake and pour into a bowl.

Here’s another wonderful salad that works well layered into a canning jar, and can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready for use:

BEAN and KALE SALAD (serves 5 to 6)

IngredientsMason Jar Salads (21 of 28)

5 to 6 canning quart-size wide-mouth canning jars

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

1 medium cucumber, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 can garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), drained well

1 can red beans, drained well

1 can black beans, drained well

1 2/3 to 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa

1 small bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces

Directions

Mix vinegar and olive oil well. Place about 3 tablespoons dressing in each jar. Then divide remaining prepared ingredients evenly among the jars: chopped onions first, then cucumber, bell pepper, garbanzo beans, red beans, black beans, quinoa, and finishing with kale.

POPPY SEED DRESSING & BACON SALAD

Serves 5 to 6

Ingredients

5 to 6 canning quart-size wide-mouth canning jars

8 ounces poppy seed dressing

1 1/4 cup of mandarin oranges

1 1/4 cup of pears

1 1/4 cup of mushrooms

10 strips of bacon (2 strips per jar)

8 ounces of Feta

8 ounces of Almonds

5 bags of leafy greens (2 cups per jar)

Directions

Pour two tablespoons of poppy seed dressing in each jar. Next, put 1/4 cup of mandarin oranges in each jar then do the same for pears and mushrooms. Then tear up 2 strips of bacon for each jar, next pour two table spoons of feta in each jar and do the same for the almonds. Finally, put two cups of your leafy greens on top.

Whatever salad recipe you use, this new twist on a familiar theme works like a charm!

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