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Salad in a Jar - the easiest lunch recipe ever

Updated on August 16, 2013

Salad in a Jar; the perfect way to make super easy lunches days in advance

I discovered Salad in a Jar the other day when a co-worker came into the office, grabbed a plate and emptied out a mason jar full of delicious salad ingredients, including the dressing! I love salad but always have to pack the dressing separately so the whole salad doesn't get soggy, and, most of the time, I forget it on the kitchen counter. Since I dislike store bought dressings and make my own, this puts quite a damper on my lunch salad. But, enter Salad in a Jar! The easiest lunch recipe you can imagine!

Salad in a Jar is a self contained salad, built in layers, including the salad dressing which is always the first thing ladled into the jar. A properly made salad in a jar will keep the other ingredients nice and dry until you spill the salad out onto a plate for your light lunch. And, you may not believe this but salads in a jar will stay fresh for up to 4 days. This means that i can make 4 days worth of lunches on Sunday and still not have to worry about putting together a brown bag lunch until the following Thursday. That's pretty cool in my book. Talk about an easy lunch.

So, come along with me as I journey further into making Salad in a Jar. I'd love to have your comments too and will even give you a place to put in suggestions for additional ingredients I may not think of.

Picture licenses under Creative Commons on Flickr.com

To make Salad in a Jar, you need jars!

I have a collection of antique jars that I just love but, if you're new to the world of creating lunches in a jar, you'll need to order a few supplies. The very first thing is mason jars or similar containers. I prefer the 32 ounce mason jars for my salad in a jar as I like alot of salad and this gives me a full plate full of delicious lunch salad. Here's a few nice jars on Amazon.com. Note: You'll probably want to buy at least 4 32-oz jars at a time so you can make multiple salads in a jar. The full case of 32 ounce jars would be perfect though if you're preparing salads in a jar for a 4th of July picnic.

67000 Ball Qt Mason Jar WM 12-pack

Kerr 0519 wide mouth jar quart, 32oz

ANCHOR HOCKING Set of 4 32oz jars with Brushed Aluminum Lid

Ideas for the bottom of your salad in a jar

Since the whole idea of packing a salad in a jar is to keep it fresh, you don't want the dressing in the bottom to corrupt the softer ingredients, such as the lettuce, spinach, or mushrooms. So, here's a few ideas to get you going about what to pack in the bottom of this portable lunch salad.

  1. Cherry or grape tomatoes. Since cherry and grape tomatoes have a fairly sturdy skin on them, these make the best bottom of the salad in a jar. They certainly won't soak up any dressing and will remain fresh for days. Sun dried tomatoes are delicious and would do well here also. Just a few sun dried tomatoes pack a satisfying punch to any lunch salad.
  2. Cucumbers. Although cucumbers are a bit more porous, they still will hold up fine as the bottom layer in the salad ala glass. Cut them in round slices so they fit well and there's no wasted space.
  3. Radishes. I'm a fan of radishes and the hotter, the better. Try the white Japanese radishes, Daikon for the bottom of the salad in a jar.
  4. Green, red, or yellow onions. Onions only get better when seeped in a dressing for a few days so they make a logical choice for the bottom layer of your salad.
  5. Slices of orange or mandarin orange sepments. Citrus will do well as it won't soak up much dressing and will even flavor the dressing you've added into the mason jar salad.
  6. Red, yellow, or green peppers. Peppers are another non-porous item that would work beautifully in a salad in a jar. Instead of cutting them in the customary strips though, try to cut them in rings, crosswise so that they fit into the jar. They'll make your lunch salad look particularly appetizing too!
  7. Cheese. I really like protein and cheese gives me a whole bunch of protein with a lot of flavor. I prefer small 1/2" cubes packed into the middle of the jar but you can shred your favorite cheddar, pepper jack, or whatever it is you prefer. You might consider layering in a bit of bleu cheese or feta cheese for a special punch to your salad in a jar.

Picnic Time Insulated Lunch Tote

Ok, I totally love this thing! Maybe it's just all the stuff that's in the picture but this insulated lunch tote sure does look like fun

Now, for the middle layer of the salad in a jar

The middle layer of your beautiful salad can be almost anything you choose. It can be items that might soak up dressing or items that you prefer to keep dry until you spill your salad in a jar out onto a pretty plate for your mid-day meal.

  1. Pasta. Try some seasoned rigatoni or macaroni as the middle layer. Add about 1/2 cup of noodles, sprinkle in a bit of salt, pepper, or lemon pepper for a real zest.
  2. Quinoa. A lot of people have never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wa - go figure....) but it's a hearty grain that is relatively low in carbohydrates compared to pasta. If you're following an Adkins or Weight Watchers diet plan, this is the grain for you. It's got a bit of a crunchy texture so will do well in the salad in a jar.
  3. Any type of fruit. I love a few raisins sprinkled around my salad for a sweet little surprise.
  4. Sliced hard boiled eggs. Protein is always good as the middle layer of the salad in a jar. Chopped eggs work too although I prefer round slices, thank you very much.
  5. Any kind of beef, pork, turkey, chicken, etc. Cubed meats will fit into the salad in a jar perfectly and will give you the added protein lift after your snack on your lunch salad.
  6. Zucchini or yellow squash. Cut rounds of zucchini and yellow squash add flavor and color to your Mason jar salads.

Salad spinners - I used to think they were stupid...

...until I got one and now I love it. Your salad in a jar will last a whole lot longer if the lettuce, spinach or whatever green you choose is as dry as possibly when you layer it into the top. And, that's why a salad spinner is such a good idea. As you turn the handle faster and faster, centrifugal force sends the water to the outside of the bowl. Open the top after a quick spin and your greens will be dry and ready for storage.

A salad spinner on steroids!

That's what this very heavy duty salad spinner reminds me of. It will last forever! It's expensive but worth it.

OXO Steel Salad Spinner
OXO Steel Salad Spinner

This would be a great product to give a vegetarian friend or anyone, for that matter, who likes vegetables and salad. Instead of using a handle to rotate the inside of the salad spinner, all you do is press the top and off you go!

 

A salad shooter will help you make those salads quick!

When using a salad shooter, you get some pretty fancy looking veggies. You can juliene, slice, dice...you name it and this salad shooter will do it. If you're making salad in a jar, just shoot each individual ingredient into a bowl, divide it among your jars, and shoot the next salad ingredient into the same bowl. Less messy that way.

Presto 02970 Professional SaladShooter Electric Slicer/Shredder, White
Presto 02970 Professional SaladShooter Electric Slicer/Shredder, White

Choose from thick slices, ripple cuts or even shredded items (think carrots) to layer into the salad in a jar. And, this salad shooter does much more. Y0u can chop nuts, grate chocolate for the top of any delicious desert shooters, or make bread crumbs. it's perfect for slicing fruit such as apples for pie too. And, talk about shredded cheese. Oh yum! When you're done making your salad (or whatever you're doing with this delightful salad shooter), just toss all of the pieces in the dishwasher. You want to be out of the kitchen as quickly as possible, right?

 

Some helpful links you might like

I write a lot of recipe articles here on Squidoo, most of them are for dessert shooters - small desserts made in shot glasses. Here's a bunch of links to these types of articles. Browse through at your leisure.

Top layer for salad in a jar

The top layer of the salad in a jar is the layer that you do not want to touch the dressing as it will wilt. So, make sure to keep your lunch salad in an upright position!

  1. Romaine lettuce. I love crunch romaine lettuce in salads. It just seems to add a certain juiciness to the mix. I cut romaine crosswise and even eat the rib but, if you like a less crunchy texture, strip the leaves off the center rip and tear those into pieces.
  2. Arugula. Bar none, arugula is my favorite salad green as I love the spiciness it imparts to the whole salad mix. It's very easy to grow and will always be available if you plant a small patch. Arugula is also known as "Rocket" as it grows so quickly. For the most tender arugula, pick the small, fresh leaves. I like it very peppery though so I prefer the older shoots.
  3. Iceberg. Good old iceberg lettuce would make a delicious topping to salad in a jar. And, iceberg has the nice quality of lasting longer too.
  4. Field greens. Field greens are a mix of most of the above with some spinach and other greens thrown in. Field greens tend to bruise easily so be careful when you layer them into the top of the salad jar.
  5. Spinach. Spinach is one of the most hardy salad greens and will stay for up to 4 days in a salad in a jar. This should be your "go to" salad green for the top layer.

Please leave me comments about this article or anything else you've got on your mind. I love to hear from my readers. Anyone who reads this may comment also - you don't have to be a Squidoo member.

Will you try Salad in a Jar?

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    • profile image

      sherryrials 3 years ago

      Thank you so much for the bottom, middle and top ideas!! I was looking for a step/idea site and you explained it excellently!! Thank you and now I am off to make my 1st of Many WW Salad's in a Jar!!

    • profile image

      tcaldy 3 years ago

      I recently started doing this for my husband and it worked out great. A wide mouth jar fits perfectly into the small cooler he carries for his lunch and he said it stayed very fresh. Great lens.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I think salad in a jar is a wonderful step back into the past in a wonderful new way. It is environmentally friendly too and reduces the use of plastics. I love it. You rock girl. Some of the ideas you feature just amaze me.

    • profile image

      mlane1000 5 years ago

      What a great idea. So doing this for work today!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      No more soggy salads...yeah!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      yes sounds great

    • lynnasafriend profile image

      lynnasafriend 5 years ago

      This is fabulous, I would never have thought of this!

    • MarilynThompson profile image

      Marilyn Thompson 5 years ago from Washington State

      Excellent idea, never heard of it

    • Huntsnan profile image

      Huntsnan 5 years ago

      I have never heard of such a thing! This is simply a great idea - no more mess or soggy salad!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      Interesting idea. I'm partial to salad in a bowl, but this might be really fun for a picnic.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I've never tried this before, but I LOVE the idea. And putting daikon at the bottom would make a really yummy accent.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Since I work from home, I don't have to pack a lunch but this is a great idea for a work lunch or to take on a picnic! Love it!!

    • lilblackdress lm profile image

      lilblackdress lm 5 years ago

      Wow, looks so refreshing and tasty!