Sunday, December 11, 2016

Packing a Mason Jar Salad

It's almost time to launch our new blog series, "52 Weeks of Mason Jar Salads" - the series during which we bring you a shiny, brand-spanking-new recipe for a mason jar salad for 52 WEEKS IN A ROW!  Yes!  52 unique, delicious, nutritious, make-ahead, packable salad recipes (adaptable to a variety of special dietary needs) coming your way, via this humble food blog.

We're going to start rolling out the recipes January 1st, 2017 (because we all want to eat a little healthier after the indulgent holiday season, right?), so until then, we thought we'd keep you all busy with a few "prequel" posts.

First ... Packing a Mason Jar Salad

Mason jar salads are not new to the scene, and there are several schools of thought as to how to pack the best mason jar salad - here is what we've found works best for us:

Dressing: always, always on the bottom.  Packing the dressing on the bottom of the jar keeps the rest of the salad fresh, and instantly dresses your salad when you invert the salad into a bowl!  Win-win.

Protein: we've found the protein component of the meal (diced/shredded meat or cheese, beans or lentils, cubed and browned tofu or tempeh, hard-boiled egg, etc.) can stand up to up to a week of slight soaking in the dressing, so it makes a natural second addition.

Sturdy Veggies: things like shredded carrots or beets, edamame, green peas, sugar snap peas, sliced red onion, roasted potato or sweet potato, dried fruits, sweet corn, and the like do well next.  They can survive an accidental splash of dressing if your salad tips in your bag on your way to work, and provide another layer of protection.

Delicate Veggies: tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, fresh fruits, and anything else juicy and highly perishable belong next.  If they happen to "weep" at all, the layers below can handle the extra moisture, and they are lightly cushioned by the top layer in your jar.

Greens: always add to the jar last!  We have found greens such as shredded kale, cabbage, or collards, fresh baby spinach, and romaine do exceptionally well in mason jar salads, as well as fresh herbs and some head lettuces such as butter or bibb.  We have had varied success with mixed baby greens, although we enjoy them immensely!

Crunchy Stuff: sometimes you may want to add nuts or seeds, croutons, crushed tortilla chips, cooked  and crumbled bacon, or other delicious toppings to your salad that would become damp (and therefore unappetizing) if added to the jar.  We find packing those items separately (in a snack-size zip-top baggie or small container) to be the best strategy for keeping crunchy stuff crunchy!

We have found that by following this packing method, our mason jar salads stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week, providing us convenient lunches (and sometimes suppers) all the work week long.

See you soon for more tips as we count down to the launch of "52 Weeks of Mason Jar Salads!"

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

No comments: