I’ll be honest. I’ve long been wary of the salad. How am I supposed to feel full and satisfied after eating a bowl of lettuce? It just doesn’t make any sense. My distaste for this healthy-eating staple is made even more shameful by the fact that I’ve been a pescatarian for almost 15 years. Recently, though, I had a revelation. It came in two parts. First, salads do not have to be 90% lettuce, and second, homemade salad dressing is a bajillion times better than store-bought.
Since fully realizing the implications of these two shockingly simple ideas, my salad game has improved drastically. I have eaten more salads in the last year than I probably have my whole life. And they’ve been fabulous. From southwestern salads packed with black beans, ripe avocado, and sweet corn, to Indian-inspired salads topped with roasted curried vegetables, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy cashews. Even the way you cut your vegetables can make a difference – crunchy, hearty veggies like beets, carrots, and Brussels sprouts make a beautiful raw salad when grated into tender shreds and topped with a rich ginger balsamic and slivered almonds. My mouth is watering just thinking about it…
Anyway, here I’ll share with you ten of my favorite mason jar salad recipes. Do they have to be made in a mason jar? Of course not, but the jar makes for easy transportation and lets you portion out a week’s worth of salads all at once. They also keep the dressing far away from tender greens and other wilt-prone ingredients until you’re ready to shake and enjoy. Plus, eating out of a mason jar is just plain fun!
The basic Mason Jar Salad technique looks like this:
1. Start with a good-sized mason jar. I typically use pint- or quart-size jars, which have enough space for a good shake (therefore giving your salad a good mix before enjoying!).
2. Always layer the dressing first, otherwise it will seep through the rest of the salad and soggify the rest of the ingredients.
3. Next, add heartier ingredients like sturdy veggies, beans, or nuts.
4. Next come the more delicate ingredients like tomato, berries, or pasta.
5. Top off your salad with the lettuce (or the most delicate ingredient) to avoid wilting and squishing!
That’s really all there is to it! Make a whole set of ’em ahead of time and grab-and-go for the entire week! It doesn’t get much easier.
1. Quinoa Chickpea Salad
Protein-rich quinoa and chickpeas make this a great power lunch salad. Get the recipe here.
2. Greek Pasta Salad
Fresh, bright veggies and a simple, homemade lemon vinaigrette give this easy salad fantastic flavor, while pasta adds substance. Get the recipe here.
3. Tripple Berry Nut Salad
Forget the lettuce! This hearty mason jar fruit salad is packed with flavor, nutrients, and protein. A simple orange honey dressing adds the perfect touch of tartness. Get the recipe here.
4. Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing
Here’s that southwestern beauty I hinted at above. Creamy avocado dressing and pepper jack cheese put this salad over the top. Get the recipe here.
5. Caprese Salad
This salad is beautiful in its simplicity. The key is to use the best tomatoes and mozzarella you can get your hands on! Get the recipe here.
6. Roasted Beet, Orange and Quinoa Salad
This bright, citrusy salad recipe is a great one to break out during those dark winter months when you need a burst of color and flavor in your life! Get the recipe here.
7. Seven-Layer Avocado Salad
Layers of bright, multi-colored veggies make this salad a real showstopper, and the variations are endless! Get the recipe here.
8. Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad
This savory-sweet salad is perfect for a light summer lunch or picnic. Get the recipe here.
9. Wheat Berry Apple Salad
Wheat berries, a whole grain packed with vitamins and fiber, make this salad super hearty, and cranberries and apples add a burst of sweetness. Get the recipe here.
10. Chickpea Salad
Feel free to swap out veggies or try a different variety of beans in this versatile salad. Get the recipe here.
11. Zucchini Pasta Salad with Avocado Spinach Dressing
Spiraled zucchini “noodles” and a creamy spinach avocado dressing are the stars of this salad. Get the recipe here.
I hope to have converted at least a few salad-haters with this post! Remember, mix it up, keep things fresh, and experiment! Quick, healthy lunches–or even leisurely ones–can be easy and fun when you keep an open mind and prep ahead of time!