Mason jars have to be one of my all-time favourite discoveries. It seems like there’s no end to what these amazing little jars can do. I use them all the time to make up chia puddings, to make parfaits, and even as a cup to make my smoothies look awesome. But recently I discovered something that mixed two of my favourite things together… Wait for it… Salad jars! I hope you’re as excited about this as I am, and I’m not just a loser.
But I absolutely love salads, and hate the perception that people have about them. No, they are not just boring, tasteless, green things that you have to put up with in the name of health. They’re so versatile and can have so many different ingredients and textures in them, that they’re possibly one of the most exciting meals out there. I don’t know if you can tell… But I kinda have a love for them, so I don’t think it’s any surprise that they’re my go-to lunch.
So, you can only imagine my excitement when I discovered salad jars. A salad, pre-packed in a mason jar for easy storage, that makes it quick and easy to carry around with you. Perfect if you don’t have a lot of space in your bag for a massive container. Another great thing about mason jars… They’re surprisingly big. I never seem to realize until I’ve packed it out just how much food you can shove into these little things. I find the whole concept amazing. A whole salad packed in one of these tiny jars is not only convenient, but just makes sense.
But it turns out you can’t just go shoving any random ingredients in these. There’s a very precise order that you need to follow in order to fully appreciate the salad jar. It just makes sense when you think about it though, because honestly, no one likes a soggy salad.
Add your dressing to the very bottom of the jar. This way you won’t need to worry about any other parts of your salad getting soggy and ruining the whole meal.
This is where you add your hard, non-absorbent veggies like tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers… The things that won’t absorb all the dressing if they get all wet, and if they have a little bit of dressing on them, it’s not going to make or break your salad.
Next, you add your softer veggies. The things that make it a bit more exciting and can add a little colour to your meal. Courgettes, roasted beetroot and all those other things that can help to add a bit of oomph to your dish. If you’re using avocado, now would be the time to place it in. However, if you do use them then make sure that you squeeze them with a bit of lemon to help prevent them browning.
Grains for days. These are one of my favourite parts of a salad, and I love how they can take a salad from boring to extraordinary. Not to mention how good they are for you. Here’s where you add the things like cous cous, quinoa, buckwheat, rice or pasta/noodles.
Time for the greens! Add whatever salad leaves you want, and however much you want. But choose wisely, as the leaves you add can completely change the taste of it at the end. From crispy iceberg to softer spinach, it’s a tough decision…
The last layer. Here’s where you add any protein that you have, including seeds, meat or fish. On top of this you would any cheese, or pomegranate seeds. Think of what you would normally garnish a salad with and just whack it on top.
It really is that simple. Just make sure you layer it correctly and you’ve got a match made in paradise. When making a salad jar, just make sure that you pack all the ingredients in tightly to help prevent it all rattling around the jar. Most salads can last a couple of days in the fridge, depending on the ingredients used. If something like avocado was used, which browns easily, then it may need to be eaten quite quickly. These jars are perfect for using up any leftovers you may have, just throw it all in and you’re good to go.
You can honestly add whatever you want, just like any other salad. I’ve gone for a fairly simple one, here’s what my one looks like:
Homemade Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (Recipe Below)
Crunchy Spiralised Carrot, because not only does it look pretty, but I also love using my spiraliser!
Roasted Beetroot. I love the taste of fresh beetroot, and think it’s so much better than what you buy in a pot. Roasting it brings out a whole different flavour, and is so simple to do. For an easy how to, check this out.
Edamame Beans, completely delicious and one of my favourites.
Time for the grains/pulses. I went for my go-to quinoa. I cooked it in a bit of freshly squeezed lime juice and water just to give it an extra bit of flavour.
I went a bit different here, and added another layer of my non-absorbent veg. I did this so that the moisture of the grains wouldn’t absorb into the leaves and make them all soggy.
Mixed baby leaf and butterhead salad leaves.
Flax Seeds and Sunflower Seeds. My choice of protein and the finishing touch.
When done, pop the lid back on and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. One big final note, when you go to eat it give the jar a good shake just to mix all the dressing and other components together. And don’t’ sit there struggling with your fork to try and pierce every level at once. More than likely, you’ll lose half the food on the table and will just end up disappointed! No, it’s not a silly thing to say, that was how I honestly thought you were meant to eat it. I’m just glad that I realised before I actually went to munch on it, because salad leaves all over the table and in my lap wouldn’t have really been that attractive! So, shake it up, then empty the contents into a bowl/plate and give it another little toss, just to make sure everything’s mixed together.
The aim of the jar isn’t really to use it as a container to eat in, but more of a convenient storage jar. It can have as many, or as little layers as you want, and can make quite a big dish, so just bear that in mind. What are you waiting for, kick start 2017 with this healthy lunch time meal.
Time for lunch,
Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tsp Poppy Seed
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place all the ingredients in a container and thoroughly mix until completely combined
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