by Illaria Catizone
Have you tried salads in a jar?
With workplaces opening up more and more, and people needing a travel-easy lunch on-the-go, these are the best Spring and Summer workplace accompaniment! I also find these great to eat at home as I can prepare 3-4 ahead of time, so have quick and healthy lunches on hand.
There are hundreds of recipes and versions of this meal online, but they all follow the same basic principles to keep all ingredients fresh. I have also found that clever layering will allow me to eat some of the odd produce from our garden… like under-developed broccoli florets or broccoli leaves (yes we didn’t do very well growing broccoli this year)!
Here are the layers, from bottom to top, and some suggestions of what you can use for each one:
- The Dressing – This should always go in first so it sits on the bottom and doesn’t get the rest of the ingredients soggy. You can choose whatever dressing you like, but if it includes olive oil, I suggest taking your jar out of the fridge an hour or so before you want to eat it, or the oil will be solid. As you’ll see, I like my hard veggies in the next layer to get slightly pickled so I tend to include an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. I am Italian, so my go-to is always olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with salt added when I am ready to eat. But really, any dressing is good, including creamy ones and peanut butter ones, just make sure they are a little runny so they evenly coat all ingredients when you mix the jar.
- Hard veggies – These are placed to act as a barrier between the dressing and the rest of the ingredients, but since I like them a little marinated, I usually mix them in. Carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, my tiny broccoli florets and vast broccoli leaves, onion, radishes. Anything hard goes well here. Chop it up small and throw it in raw.
- Soft veggies (optional)- This layer is NOT your greens. If I have them on hand, I like to add roasted veggies at this point like pumpkin, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, swedes and more.
- Proteins- My favourites are beans (I use canned, but if you are organised you can cook up some bulk-bought dried beans ahead of time), tofu (which I coat in soy sauce and cook or bake), hard boiled eggs, tin sardines, canned tuna or fresh fish. This is a great way to use left overs for fish or meat. I don’t eat meat, but I imagine shredded meat of just about any type would work well.
- Carbs – You can get creative here! Just make sure you cook your carbs and let them cool before adding them to the jar. Cous-cous, quinoa, rice of any type, pasta, barley and boiled potatoes are all great options.
- The Greeeeens – This is the real salady bit! Personally I found that sturdier leaves chopped up small work better than lettuce however, especially if you are making jars to store for a few days. I like spinach or silverbeet. Make sure the leaves are dry or they will go mushy before you get to enjoy your salad!
- Toppings – On top of it all, you can add a sprinkle of crunch or cheese. I like a small handful of nuts like the Co-op’s fantastic hazelnuts or sunflower seeds. Some feta cheese or grated cheddar would also work well.
Store your jars in the fridge for up to 4 days. Make sure they stay upright until you are ready to enjoy your salad.
At mealtime, pour the contents of your jar on a plate, sprinkle with a pinch of salt if needed and mix well. Voila!