I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.
I’m at the age where I don’t completely understand social media or why it’s so popular but being a business owner, I appreciate that it is an effective way to communicate with fans and customers. When I first started using Pinterest, I did it grudgingly.
I pinned and pinned, all the while saying to myself, “This is such a waste of time.” Then I started to come across things that seemed useful. I found inspiration for soap, yummy recipes, decorating ideas and cute animals. I found myself hitting the “Pin It” button and occasionally saying, “Wow, that’s so cool,” instead of lamenting about the time suck that Pinterest can be.
The turning point that made me a fan was finding something called, “salad in a jar.” I’ve looked at so many sites and photos of salads in jars that I can’t remember where I first saw it. But I can tell you, the concept rocked my world. My day job is in an office; I would love to bring more salads for lunch, but I always run into problems with the dressing. Mixing the dressing with the salad the night before causes wilted and soggy lettuce. Bringing the dressing in a separate container is messy. My dressing container regularly tips over in my lunch box, leaks and causes a greasy mess. And forget about making a week of salads in advance. Lettuce just doesn’t hold up that long!
Storing your salad in a jar solves all of these problems and turns a healthy salad into an easily transported lunch option. The concept is simple; layer your salad ingredients in a jar, starting with the dressing, followed by hardy vegetables that are able to withstand a soak in the dressing and topped with the most delicate ingredients. The lettuce doesn’t get soggy because it doesn’t touch the dressing until you are ready to eat. The dressing is sequestered at the bottom of the jar and, as long as you don’t prematurely tip your jar, it never leaks out. And, the preserving nature of glass jars helps keep the ingredients fresh and crispy for several days.
So, on a rainy Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I headed of to the farmers market to buy salad ingredients. I bought enough ingredients to make five days worth of salads for Matt and me. I had a ton of fun experimenting with different combinations and using different items in the bottom layer.
The key to success is picking the hardiest vegetables to use in the bottom layer. I can’t overstate the importance of selecting vegetables that will hold up to being soaked in dressing. My favorite is mushrooms. They almost seem to pickle in the dressing after a couple of days. If you are a mushroom hater, onions are another good choice. The dressing leaches out the heat and leaves a sweeter version of this sometimes overwhelming vegetable. Tomatoes, green beans, red peppers and cucumbers are great choices for the first layer, too.
After you’ve set up your dressing barrier, anything goes. I used different combinations of sprouts, berries, and proteins like beans and hard-boiled eggs. I topped all the jars off with spinach, watercress and baby greens.
On Monday, I loaded up my lunch box with my salad, being careful to keep the jar upright, and a bowl to dump the salad into. At lunch, I simply popped the top off my jar, dumped the goodies into my bowl, mixed it up and ate.
I was impressed with how fresh everything tasted on the first day. Day two and three yielded surprisingly tasty results, as well. I only work in the office three days a week, but Matt reported that the salad he ate on day four was still pleasant. By day five, however, we noticed the lettuce had wilted just a bit. It was still edible but we had the sense that five days would be the limit. And, we were right. By day six the lettuce in the remaining jars was completely wilted and smelled a bit off. Still, being able to eat a salad made five days ago is a pretty impressive feat.
Have you tried making salad, or other food, in a jar? Share your experiences in the comments section. I could use some new ideas to make my lunches more exciting. Oh, and if you love this idea, don’t forget to click that “Pin It” button (or share on Facebook and Twitter)!