Mason Jar Salads
This was a phase of obsession. It’s still fun because you can mix up any combination.
1. Don’t cut your tomatoes. I know some other recipes say to do this, but I didn’t like what happened after a couple days. The tomatoes broke down too much, and the dressing thinned out and rose up in the jar and started covering the cucumbers. This led me to…
2. Don’t let your salad dressing touch the cucumbers. Most all salad dressings (even the creamy ones) have vinegar in them. And you know what happens when you mix vinegar and cucumbers together–pickles. The taste didn’t bother me, because I like pickles. But it might bother you, so that’s something to think about.
3. The first few layers are very important. Do not just pour the dressing in. If any of it splashes back up, it will affect the upper layers’ integrity. So pour slowly and carefully towards the center of the jar. And if any does splash up, wipe it away before adding other ingredients.
4. To me at this point, tomatoes (and whole ones, specifically)are a necessity. Grape or cherry tomatoes with the skin intact hold up so well, and better than most other foods I can think of. When you put the tomatoes in, it takes 7-9 grape tomatoes (I haven’t used cherry yet) to cover one solid layer in the bottom. Don’t just dump them in there. Make sure it’s an even layer. Shredded carrots would also probably work as a bottom layer.
5. The veggies that I’ve used that work well in the second layer are cucumbers and bell peppers. Also, I think shredded carrots or olives would work here. Again, make sure not to just dump them, because you’re trying to create a barrier.
6. When you’ve put in everything but the lettuce or greens, you should still have about half a jar left. My first salads did not have enough lettuce.
7. Finally, think about using ingredients that can cross over, but can be used to make totally different flavored bowls. I’ll show you how I did that in the pictures below.
So that’s what I’ve learned. And I know this seems like a lot of work, but think about it: you’re making a ton of meals in advance. Not just 1-2. I made 8 today (and of course, there are two of us to eat them).
Here is a complete list of ingredients:
Baked chicken (get the recipe here), cut into chunks
Deli turkey, sliced thin, then rolled up and cut into strips
Whole grape or cherry tomatoes
Low fat raspberry vinaigrette (today I used Kraft because it was on sale)
Low fat Balsamic vinaigrette (today I used Newman’s Own because I already had one open)
Low moisture part skim mozzarella, cut into small chunks
Blue cheese crumbles (I used gorgonzola)
2 Hard boiled eggs (I made these yesterday so they’d be cold)
English cucumber cut into chunks
Bell pepper cut the same size as cucumber (I used orange because I already had one)
Cranberries (I used Ocean Spray reduced sugar)
Toasted pumpkin seeds
|(everything -except I forgot to put out the pumpkin seeds- is laid out and ready to go!)|
Here are the ingredients I used in the first salad, from the bottom up: (1)balsamic dressing, (2)tomatoes, (3)bell peppers, (4)cucumber, (5)chicken, (6)mozzarella, (7)spinach, and (8)pumpkin seeds.
I’ll call this salad “Twisted Tomato and Mozzarella.”
I am going to show pictures of the steps. I want you to see the bed I made for the ingredients, so they don’t fall through, get soggy, get pickled, get limp, and all the other gross stuff that could happen if it mixes together before you’re ready to eat it.
|(a solid layer of tomatoes)|
|(The second layer: diced bell pepper)|
|(Onto the chicken and small diced cheese. This is also when I discoved the flash
on my phone/camera! I said I wasn’t a good photographer, remember?)
|(Tucking the spinach on top. Remembering to leave half the jar empty for the greens this time!)|
|(Some crunchy pumpkin seeds on top. Of course you could use any nuts or seeds, or not use any at all!)|
So here are the final products:
|On the Spinach Cobb Salad, remember to follow the same guidelines as before, creating beds with each ingredient for the one to follow. Here are the ingredients for the second salad, again from bottom to top: (1)raspberry vinaigrette, (2)tomatoes, (3)cucumber, (4)deli turkey, (5)blue cheese crumbles, (6)chopped hard boiled egg, (7)spinach, (8)dried cranberries.|
And here’s my Spinach Cobb Salad dumped out into one of my bowls:
|(Delicious and healthy)|