Instagram makes food look so delicious; especially these crazy concoctions.
I keep seeing the #masonjarsalad tag all over the place, accompanying pictures of artistic veggie arrangements that make your mouth water.
It’s been a long, adventure filled summer and, sadly, my eating habits have suffered as a result.
I’m way too busy to prepare lunches every day and takeout salads are usually disappointing and quite expensive.
With all that in mind, I decided to jump on the Mason Jar Salad bandwagon.
You can get these all over the place. In my hood, Canadian Tire and Walmart both carry six packs of 1L jars for about 10 bucks.
They’re sealed tight an take up less space in your bag than the average lunch box. For the assembly process, you’ll also want a large plastic bowl that you can upend the whole jar into and give it a toss.
I played around with this a little, but in the end the recommended method of storing wet ingredients at the bottom and dry ones at the top worked very well.
I packed these tight so between the layer of hard veggies and leaf stopper I formed in each jar, my seeds and nuts at the top stayed perfectly dry and crunchy.
You’ll want leafy greens, something crunchy, and other small savoury morsels to add colour and texture to your salad.
- Coleslaw mix
- Green onions
- Red onion
If it’s not obvious enough already from my recipes, I’m a huge meat eater. This whole salad jar experiment is a no-go without some protein.
You can replace the protein here with nuts, seeds, quinoa or beans, I wanted these lunch salads to be substantial and satisfying enough to get me through the day.
I’m so over croutons. I discovered sunflower seeds as a salad topping a few months back and I’m totally hooked. Salads need a variety of textures or they start to feel like lawn clippings. Try mixing in:
- Sunflower seeds
- Roasted peas
- Roasted chickpeas
Especially if you’re using bitter greens like collards or arugula, a little touch of sweet will round off the taste and pairs great with a light vinaigrette. Your local Bulk Barn store has a huge assortment of dehydrated fruit that can give the salad a little kick. For milder accents, try shredded fresh fruit or tiny tomatoes.
- Golden raisins
- Dried cranberries
- Shredded apple
- Cherry tomatoes
Dressings & cheese
Be sparing with these, so much of the flavour comes from your ingredients that you don’t want to drown out their delicate aromas.
- Caesar dressing
- Classic greek dressing
- Raspberry vinaigrette
This took some careful coordination to maximize my use of all the ingredients. Cue the spreadsheet action.
Once I had gathered all the supplies above, I put together five delicious recipes for the week: golden caesar topped with grilled chicken, a classic greek salad, crunchy tuna delight, the salad equivalent of a turkey dinner feast and a creamy garlic slaw.
They’re healthy and filling; plus skipping the takeout lineup every day means spending a bit more time in the sun.
Edit: The Aftermath
It’s been six months since the mason jar experiment started out and I have somehow managed to stick to it religiously for the past half a year.
I began with a five different recipes and further expanded the list with some thematic additions. The more jars I packed, the bolder the combinations I came up with.
When you think about it, the word salad is a loose definition for crudities and leaves packed into a bowl. Anything goes!
After a couple weeks of crazy, experimental concoctions, I collapsed all these ideas into my favourite permutation of ingredients:
Cucumber dressing + Carrot + Red onion + Spinach + Mushroom + Green onion + Pomegranate + Dried cranberries + Roasted sunflower seeds + Feta + Salt & pepper
I ditched the lettuce altogether, because it had little flavour and retained a lot of water which shortened the life span of my jars. Instead I started using baby spinach, and shortly after full-leafed spinach for its bolder flavour. Chopped kale also adds some dimension to the leaf flavour bouquet, and the pomegranate is not only full of antioxidants, but also adds crunch, sweetness and colour to the mix.