Are you aware of the mason jar craze that’s sweeping the hipster nation? One glance at Pinterest should get you up to date: these kitschy jars are being used to hold everything from old-fashioned cocktails to parfaits, individual cakes, coffee, oatmeal, pudding, and lemonade. And for once, I can’t really blame the hipsters: mason jars are so adorable!
The Great Debate
But layering a colorful salad in a mason jar–pretentious and impractical, right? The hipster foodies beg to differ: the layering method allows you to create salads ahead of time and store them in your fridge, and if you do it right, they’ll last for 3-4 days without getting soggy and gross.
Mason jars are also functional for storing food in general: they’re endlessly reusable, easy to clean, not made of evil carcinogenic plastics, tightly sealable, and able to sit at the bottom of your book bag without squishing your lunch. Of course, they’re heavier than your average plastic container, so be forewarned.
The secret to the perfect mason jar salad is putting the dressing at the very bottom of the jar, then adding the firmer, sturdier veggies first. Delicate vegetables that wilt easily, like greens and herbs, go at the top of the jar. This way, the firmer veggies get to marinate in the dressing, while the greens stay pristine. Fill your fridge with these hip little beauties, and grab one on your way to work. When you’re ready for lunch, toss the whole thing into a bowl, mix, and consume. Looks like your weekday lunches just got a whole lot healthier.
The formula for a foodie-approved mason jar salad is pretty foolproof. In a clean mason jar, layer the ingredients as follows:
1st layer: dressing of your choice
2nd layer: grains, beans, and heavy vegetables (think quinoa, barley, lentils, black beans, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions)
3rd layer: greens (arugula, kale, spinach, butter lettuce…you know the drill)
4th layer: lighter veggies or fruits (tomatoes, green onions, berries)
5th layer: herbs or crunchy things (basil, parsley, cilantro, croutons, seeds, nuts)
Don’t let all this layering intimidate you, though. Just think heavy ingredients first, lighter ingredients last. Better embrace it: you’re officially part of the mason jar salad movement.