The biggest craze right now seems to be salads in a jar and for good reason. They can be prepared ahead of time and keep for days. The mason jar container is sturdy, doesn’t leak and is very pretty to look at once the salad is layered. It also holds a complete meal, and is more filling than what it seems while taking up very little space in your fridge. Mason jars can be found at your local grocer and have many different uses if you don’t use all of them for your lunches. Pinterest has more uses for mason jars than I can count.
There is certainly a technique to building a jar salad. The bottom of the jar should contain your dressing of choice. As you layer up, keep in mind that whatever you put next will be sitting in the dressing so use ingredients that can withstand that such as: corn, beans, celery, broccoli or grains. If you plan to use proteins, (ham, chicken, tofu, egg, tuna, cheese) they would sit well on the next layer. On top of the protein layer you can add more delicate vegetables like grated carrots, cucumber, tomato, olives or a layer of fruit. Finally, put the most delicate items near the top such as: lettuce, sprouts, herbs, nuts and seeds. The trick is to remember that all the ingredients will be close to each other for several days so you don’t want one jeopardizing the other. You especially don’t want delicate items sitting on the dressing as they will get soggy. I also like to leave a bit of space near the top so that the ingredients can move when I shake the jar to mix the ingredients. If you plan on dumping the ingredients into a bowl you don’t need to worry about leaving space. You can pack your jar tightly.
Mason jar salads are very quick to prepare on a Sunday evening and you have lunches for days. When I tried these out I read that they could keep for up to a week so I prepared a variety of salads for my Monday to Friday lunches. I found that anything after Wednesday began to taste less fresh so I would only recommend 3 days at a time. However, if you are making these for more than just yourself, they will likely be gone within 3 days.
Since it is my themed salad month, I thought I would share one of my favourite pasta salad recipes. It works really well as a jar salad and is inspired by flavours of Italy. Normally I toss all the ingredients in warm pasta and serve but for the sake of lunches that last through the week, it is important to make sure the pasta is cooled. I am not gluten intolerant but I do find my stomach feels very heavy after I eat pasta so to avoid that I use rice pasta. It is the only replacement that I have found to taste so similar to regular pasta that I can’t taste the difference, and the texture is also good. I use the Tinkyada brand.
The base of the jar has a quick pesto dressing which combines pesto (homemade or store bought) with a bit of extra olive oil and red wine vinegar. This will give a light coat of dressing to the salad. If you like a heavier dressing you can add more.
I then place cooked and cooled rainbow fusilli pasta on the pesto dressing so it can start absorbing some of the flavour. The grooves in this pasta catch the dressing which makes it more tasty.
For the vegetables I layer cherry tomatoes, artichokes and olives that I cut into bite-sized pieces. Do not cut them too small as they keep better if they are cut slightly larger.
Mason Jar Pasta Salad
1 C rainbow fusilli
1/4 C pesto
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
pinch of salt and pepper
100 g salami cut in pieces
100 g feta in small cubes
4 C fresh baby spinach
15 cherry tomatoes cut in 1/2
12 pitted olives cut in 1/2
6 marinated artichoke heart pieces
1. Boil pasta until tender (about 13 minutes), strain, and let cool.
2. Mix pesto, olive oil, vinegar salt and pepper to make the dressing.
3. Wash and cut vegetables into bit sized pieces.
4. Cut salami and feta into similar sized pieces as vegetables.
5. Layer ingredients evenly between 2 mason jars as follows:
dressing, pasta, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, feta, salami, spinach
6. When ready to eat either shake ingredients in jar or empty contents into a large bowl and toss.
Calories per jar 754
Protein per jar 34.8 g