After years of eating the same style of salad, it might be time to reevaluate your greens routine. The first place we’d urge you to start is to think outside the salad bowl. From salad boards to grain bowls, there are so many different ways to enjoy the combination of chopped raw and cooked vegetables, pulses, grains, protein and greens. One of the trendiest? The mason jar salad.
Salads in a jar are at the height of trendiness right now, and while that might make you inclined to roll your eyes and look past them, you’d be remiss if you didn’t give them a try. They’re healthy, portable, eco-friendly, inexpensive, long-lasting, and built-in portion control. We asked Anna Helm Baxter, author of the new book Salad in a Jar: 68 Recipes for Salads and Dressings, to share her best mason jar salad tips with us, along with a couple of recipes.
Tell us: What’s the advantage of using a mason jar over using another type of container?
Anna Helm Baxter: Mason jars are made of glass, and unlike many plastics, they are non toxic. They also have tight-fitting lids which maximizes the shelf life of your salads and means there are less likely to be leaks when transporting.
Is there a best way to store the dressing in a mason jar salad?
AHB: In a mason jar, of course! Second to that, any tight-sealing container will do. Most dressings will keep for a week or two, but dressings containing garlic, ginger or fresh herbs should be used within a couple of days.
Do you have a secret to layering salads in a jar?
AHB: Always start with the dressing; the second ingredient is going to sit in the dressing so should be anything that will marinate nicely in the dressing (onions and fennel are my favorites). After that, layer in order of weight, finishing up with lighter leaves. I don’t like to add fruits, meats, nuts and cheeses until the day I’m eating the salad. You can create a little moisture barrier using a small square of parchment paper to prevent hard cheeses and nuts from going soft.
What’s the best way to eat a mason jar salad?
AHB: If you have a wide-mouthed jar, then eating in the jar is the best way—plus there’s no extra clean up! You can also dump the salad into a bowl.
How tightly should you pack everything in there?
AHB: If you’re going to eat the salad in the jar rather than dumping it out, then you want a little breathing room so that you can shake up the ingredients once you’re ready to eat. However, the jars keep better when packed tightly because there’s less space for air. I pack the jars so there’s more salad to eat!
Roughly how long will mason jar salads keep?
AHB: If the ingredients that go into the jar are crisp, fresh and dry, the salads can last safely for a week, and often longer. If you plan to keep them this long, remember to add meats, cheeses, nuts and fruits the day you plan to eat them.
Below is one of Anna’s favorite recipes from the book; if you don’t have a glass jar with a lid, all of the recipes will still work: just layer or toss ingredients as your normally would and serve immediately.
Chicken and Kale Caesar
Time: 10 minutes
2 to 3 tablespoons Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)
4 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
2 1⁄4 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
13⁄4 ounces chopped curly kale
1⁄2 ounce shredded Parmesan cheese
A small handful of croutons
Place the dressing in the bottom of a quart jar. Add the cherry tomatoes, followed by the chicken, kale, and Parmesan. Cut a small square of parchment paper, place directly on top of the Parmesan, and add the croutons. Seal the jar tightly. Makes 1 quart.
Time: 10 minutes
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan
1 anchovy, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1⁄2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
Place the garlic, Parmesan, anchovy, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, and yogurt in a small jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously. Makes 1/3 cup.
Reprinted with permission from Salad in a Jar, by Anna Helm Baxter. Copyright 2017 by Hachette Livre (Marabout). Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography by Victoria Wall Harris