Transporting salads for lunch is always a tricky situation. Sometimes your Tupperware does not want to seal, leaking dressing all over your bag. Other times, you get ready to eat only to find your salad has become a soggy mess.
The greens have wilted, the cucumbers have lost their crunch, and the croutons no longer have texture. Mason jar salads are an innovative way to bring your lunch to work without the mess and the heartbreak of a sad salad. Follow these steps to assemble the perfect salad.
The dressing is always the Achilles heel of salads on-the-go. Too much dressing will drown your vegetables, but underdressing makes a salad punchless. Mason Jar salads require precise layering to keep your salads crisp and fresh. Start your salad by adding the dressing first. 3 to 4 tablespoons of dressing should be ideal for quart-sized jars, and two tablespoons for pints.
Your first layer of ingredients will set the stage for the rest of your salad. Add ingredients that won’t soak up the dressing to act as a barrier. Carrots, sugar snap peas, and chickpeas can sit in dressing without killing their texture. Onions also make an excellent choice, because, although they soak up dressing, they help dilute the strong oniony taste.
As you continue to add layers to your mason jar, be sure to pack the ingredients in tightly. Produce loses freshness as it is exposed to air. By stuffing the jar with ingredients, you not only will have a heartier salad but a fresher one as well.
Greens should be the last ingredient added to your salad. Crispy greens add wonderful texture to salads, but can quickly turn soft and soggy. They also work as a moisture barrier to the rest of the salad. Cheeses and nuts can go right on top of the greens. If you want to add protein such as chicken or shrimp, add them on top in the morning before leaving the house.
Does your salad lack firm vegetables that separate the dressing? Many delicious salads do not include them, but that does not mean you need to force your salad to be soggy or forgo dressing all together. You can make a small dressing cup with parchment paper. After adding your ingredients, leave a little space at the top. Cut out a piece of parchment paper a couple of inches wider than the jar top and create a cup inside the jar. Bend down the edges and screw the cap on for a spill-proof solution.
Hungry yet? Pour your salad into a bowl and give it a quick toss to coat the ingredients evenly with dressing. Grab a fork, and you are ready to dine.