If you’ve been hanging with me for any length of time, you know I’m pretty wild about making Gifts in a Jar, now a free downloadable ebook. I’m talking about glass canning jars with screw top lids. Seriously, you can stuff just about anything in one of these amazing containers and come up with a unique, lovely gift.
Over the years we’ve made Cookies in a Jar, Light in a Jar, Garden in a Jar, even a Journal in a Jar (instructions for all in the ebook). I have no idea why I’ve never embraced what is quite possibly the most practical use of a jar—Salad in a Jar.
I didn’t think of this, but I’m pretty much in love with the person who did. Simply brilliant and so practical.
Basically, you assemble the ingredients for a fresh, healthy salad by layering them in a wide-mouth glass canning jar.
If you do it right, you can make up a bunch of jar salads on Sunday, put them in the refrigerator and having your lunches made up for the entire week. Prepared well, a jar salad kept in the refrigerator will be as fresh up to a week later as it was the day you assemble it. And no vacuum-sealing necessary.
To eat, simply dump the contents of the jar into a bowl, give it a quick toss and you have a delicious, nutritious and affordable lunch.
The operative words here are “do it right.” I promise if you do it wrong, you’ll end up with a soggy, slimy mess of a salad and that will be disappointing at best. You do not want that to happen, so let’s go through the simple steps to make Salad in a Jar.
Let’s talk about jars
You want to use wide-mouth canning jars. This makes it easier to get the layers in and the salad out. Glass (not plastic) jars are what you want for salads, as the ingredients will stay fresh and lovely longer than if stored in plastic. And you want jars that have lids—typically you’ll find two part lids, a lid, and a ring.
While quart-size wide-mouth canning jars seem to the salad-size of choice, a pint jar makes a dandy fruit salad and a two-quart size canning jar is perfect for bringing a family-size salad to a picnic, barbecue or potluck.
You may be able to find canning jars at your supermarket. You’ll have to search them out but typically you’ll find them in the baking aisle. Walmart, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joann carry canning jars, however, it can be a seasonal product, so you’ll need to check. I get my jars on Amazon because they are always available and with Prime shipping I get them in a couple of days.
When they arrive I immediately load them into the dishwasher and run them through a sanitize cycle. I’m weird like that.
- Pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of your salad dressing of choice (more or less depending on the size jar and your taste) into the bottom of the jar. This needs to be the bottom layer so that the dressing remains separated from the greens of the salad until it’s time to eat. You do not want the greens and the dressing to meet one another until then. Any other method will create a soggy mess.
- The next layer will be vegetables that will do well marinating in the dressing. Think of things like sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chopped celery, and carrot. This layer should not include anything that will become withered or soggy while sitting in or next to the dressing.
- Next comes beans, mushrooms, sprouts, corn etc., which are softer vegetables. In this location, they will be separated well from the dressing. However, if there’s a little migration along the way, that will not be a problem.
- If you’re adding pasta or grains like quinoa, couscous or rice, they come in the next layer—quite far now from the dressing. This is just another layer that will keep the greens even farther from the dressing and any chance of getting soggy.
- This layer will be any protein you want in your salad. This might be chicken or bits of deli ham; chopped egg, cheese and so on.
- Now, fill the jar almost to the very top with lettuce, spinach, field greens, arugula—whatever kind of greens you want in your salad.
- Seeds, nuts, bacon crumbles and so forth go on the very top. NOTE ABOUT BACON: Even if you put crisp bacon on the top far away from the, once the jar is closed up, the bacon will begin to get soft. For this reason, I put the bacon into a snack-size sandwich bag, fold it in half and place it on the top. That fixes the problem.
- Once the jar is well packed, apply the lid tightly and place the jar in the refrigerator.
That’s it. Your salad will patiently wait until you’re ready to eat it. And when you are, simply dump the contents into a bowl, give it a toss and enjoy. You can eat it from the jar once you turn it upside down and shake it a bit, but I find it to be a bit awkward.
I line up a dozen jars on the counter, get out all of the ingredients and away I go. Sometimes the salads are all the same, other times they’re all different. It just depends on what I have on hand and what sounds good.
This has simplified my life by eliminating the “What’s for lunch?” annoying disruption in the day. The decision has been reduced to deciding which jar to grab and go.
Here are three extraordinary recipes to get you started on your own Salad in a Jar Life Simplification Program:
Red wine vinaigrette, chopped plum tomatoes, cucumber slices, pitted Kalamata olives, chopped yellow peppers, chopped red onion, Feta cheese crumbles. Note: Not all salads have greens, this one being a good example. For that reason, I make this salad in a pint-sized canning jar.
Shrimp Feta Cobb
Start with your favorite Italian dressing (or other), then add in this order: chopped avocado, grape tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped cucumber, romaine lettuce, and baby spinach, crumbled Feta cheese, cooked shrimp, chopped boiled egg and two slices cooked bacon, chopped (see note above regarding bacon).
Spring Pea with Feta, Cucumber, and Radish
Creamy buttermilk dressing, crumbled feta cheese, sliced cucumber, sliced radishes, fresh spring peas (removed from the pod), torn hearts of Romaine lettuce, sunflower seeds.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.