Have you ever tried making salad in a jar? It may sound like a trendy Pinterest fad, but in all honesty the method works really well for a few different reasons. First, the dressing goes in the bottom and ingredients are layered in order of "hardiness" with greens on the very top. This prevents soggy spinach or arugula which can be a deal-breaker when packing salads for lunch.
Another benefit is that when you dump the salad into a bowl or onto a plate at lunch time, the dressing comes out last and is then evenly distributed. There is nothing worse than only tasting it in the first few bites. Lastly, the jars are compact and only require one container for a complete lunch. When trying to get out the door in a hurry, salad in a jar is literally a grab and go lunch. Once you are finished eating, it goes right into the dishwasher for easy clean-up. Does it get any easier?
Because I love this idea so much, I wanted to share one of my favorite seasonal variations. The recipe below makes 4 generous salads - so you can either keep them all for yourself and have a week's worth of lunches or share with a significant other and make his/her day.
My Favorite Fall Mason Jar Salad
Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 4 salads | Cook Time (squash & almonds): 15-20 min | Prep Time (building salads): 20 min | Total Time: 45 min
- Balsamic vinaigrette (store-bought or see recipe at the end)
- One small butternut squash, cubed and roasted
- One large honeycrisp apple, diced
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 4 oz container of bleu cheese crumbles
- Arugula, one small clamshell
Note: This will basically be an assembly line, so get all of those ingredients out and ready to roll! You will also need 4-32 oz mason jars with lids off.
1. Equally divide all ingredients between the four jars in the order they are listed.
2. Screw on lids tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
3. When ready to eat, remove lid and pull out ingredients with a fork onto plate/bowl.
Feel free to sub any green you like for the arugula, any apple you like for the honeycrisp, etc. These are easily customizable.
Homemade balsamic vinaigrette: Add the following to small jar: 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, generous squeeze of honey and dijon mustard, salt & pepper to taste. Optional add-ins include dried oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes or shallots. Shake the jar like crazy until everything is well-combined. Use as much as you need for the salads and refrigerate the rest for later.
For the roasted squash I typically just toss in some oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (until tender)
To toast almonds, add to a dry skillet on medium heat and stir until fragrant. Watch closely because they burn fast if left unattended.