Imagine opening up your refrigerator and seeing ready-to-go salads all lined up just waiting to be eaten. While an official recipe to create a mason jar salad isn’t really necessary, there is a bit of an art to building the perfect mason jar salad to avoid ending up eating a soggy mess. (Hint: it’s all about the layering.) Don’t miss the mason jar salad demo at The Microbiome Solution Workshop in January, but for now, check out the methods and ingredient inspirations below!
Mason Jar Size: Use a widemouthed jar that’s easy to fill . . . and easy to dig into. The pint size is perfect for an individual salad and is deceptively bigger and more filling than it looks. If packed with nutrient-dense ingredients, it should keep you full for hours. For larger salads, use the quart size.
Dressing: Wet ingredients go on the bottom. By keeping the mason jar upright, the dressing won’t mix with the rest of the salad until you’re ready to eat it. Try using hummus or pesto instead of traditional salad dressing. Anything else with a marinade should stay close to the bottom as well.
Hard Vegetables: Veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, peppers, celery, onion, zucchini, fennel, and cooked beets can be layered on top of the dressing be- cause they are not as absorbent.
Softer Fruits & Veggies: In the middle, place the more absorbent veggies, such as avocado, tomatoes, berries, or citrus fruits. (If using avocado, add a squeeze of lemon to prevent browning.)
Grains, Beans, Nuts, Seeds & Proteins: These nutritional powerhouses stay fresh closer to the top. The nuts and seeds maintain their crunch if placed right below the top layer. (Note: Beans can also go near the bottom.)
Greens: Last but not least, fill the remaining part of the jar with as much leafy greens as you can possibly fit in (or bring along some extras to make sure to get your daily fill of gorgeous greens).
Storing: Make sure to screw the lid on as tightly as possible so that your salad can last up to 4 days.
Eating: When it comes time to eat your gorgeous salad, either shake it up and go for it straight from the jar, or pull out a bowl and do “the flip”: turn the mason jar upside down into a dish and end up with the greens on the bottom and all the other ingredients on top, including the dressing.
Use your imagination and try not to get stuck in the idea of having to follow a recipe exactly. Here are a few ideas meant to inspire:
- Raid the refrigerator for leftovers (or intentionally make extra). Roast lots of veggies at the beginning of the week, make some extra protein, and cook a batch of quinoa or brown rice. Then, when it comes time to filling all the jars, mix and match to create a variety of perfectly balanced lunches to keep things interesting all week long. (No two salads are alike, so you can say good-bye to lunchtime boredom.)
- Pick a theme. Think Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian-inspired, or Italian, and then build your salad with all the flavors and ingredients accordingly.
- Deconstruct a salad you already make. As an example, take the Colorful Kale Salad (page 217 of The Microbiome Solution) and then layer all of the ingredients instead of mixing them together.
- Get ideas from other dishes. The Zucchini Pasta with Pesto and Cherry Toma- toes (page 235 of The Microbiome Solution) is a tasty option. Just layer the pesto on the bottom, and then add the zucchini noodles plus lots of tomatoes. To make it more of a salad, add in other crunchy veggies, such as carrots and red bell peppers.