Imagine leaving the house each morning for work with a healthy and delicious lunch in tow—no morning prep required! Or toting salad to a picnic by tossing it in your backpack. Author of Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go, Julia Mirabella, joins us today to share her tips on assembling a mason jar salad, as well as a recipe for Spinach, Blueberry, and Blue Cheese Salad.
Assembling Mason Jar Salads
The most efficient way to make Mason jar salads is to assemble more than one at a time, maybe even enough to take to work each day of the following week. Try to make similar types of salads at the same time — it cuts down on costs, since you don’t need to buy many different ingredients. But make sure to have enough variety that you won’t get tired of eating the salads day after day.
1: Begin by washing your salad ingredients and cutting the vegetables or fruits as needed. Choose a few vegetables that can be used in all of the salads you’re making. It’s good to have a few firm veggies to layer at the bottom of the jar.
2: The secret to a Mason jar salad is layering. Start with the dressing on the bottom. I use about 3 to 4 tablespoons of salad dressing per quart jar, or 2 tablespoons per pint jar. (I’ve also found it helpful to place onions at the bottom, if I’m using them, because soaking them in the dressing helps dilute the strong onion taste and prevents onion breath at work.)
3: Next, add some salad ingredients that won’t soak up the dressing such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, or chickpeas.
4: Continue to layer your salad with your chosen ingredients. Pack the layers as tightly as possible — the less air between layers, the longer your salad will stay fresh.
5: Finally, layer on your salad greens. By ending with the greens at the top, you’ll create a moisture barrier that prevents the entire salad from becoming soggy. If you are including cheese and/or nuts, add them last.
6: Twist on the tops to seal your salads, place the jars in your refrigerator, and you’re good to go! If you want to include a protein such as chicken, just place it on top of the salad greens in the morning on the day you’ll eat the salad.
7: When you’re ready to eat the salad, just pour it into a bowl and toss to mix the dressing into the salad.
Spinach, Blueberry, and Blue Cheese Salad
Fruit and cheese go incredibly well together, and this salad is no exception. Blueberries and blue cheese are the stars of the show in this sweet and salty summer salad. The strength of their flavors elevates a simple spinach salad to something complex and biting — perfect for lunch or as part of a summer barbecue.
Makes 1 serving
- 1⁄2 cup blueberries
- 3 cups spinach leaves, divided
- 1⁄4 cup shaved or sliced almonds
- 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 1 quart-sized Mason jar
Place the blueberries in the bottom of the Mason jar. Next, make layers of 2 cups spinach, the almonds, and the remaining 1 cup spinach. The final layer should be the blue cheese.
On top of the blue cheese, make a parchment paper cup (see page 14) and pour in the Red Wine Vinaigrette. Seal the jar and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat the salad.
TIP: If you’re going to eat this salad on the same day you make it, you can put the dressing in the bottom of the jar and eliminate the parchment paper cup. Otherwise, the salad will last longer if the blueberries don’t sit in the dressing.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1⁄2 tablespoon minced shallot
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Whisk together the vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking, until the dressing thickens.
For more great mason jar salad ideas, grab a copy of Julia’s book, Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go!