By Eileen Goltz

I have recently discovered the joys of mason jar salads. One of my culinary sidekicks, Katie, assured me that everyone who is cooking these days is making and eating these easy do-ahead meals. So, since I’m now a huge fan, I’m hoping to convince anyone who wants to make to-go meals even more memorable.

First thing you need to know is that, much like your winter wardrobe, it’s all about layering and the order of layers. The way you put your ingredients into your jar can mean the difference between a great, crispy salad and a soggy, mushy mess. My preferred order (and no, you don’t have to use all these in every dish):

  1. Dressing on the bottom (goes in first), always!
  2. Chunky hard vegetables (broccoli, carrots, beans, celery)
  3. Softer vegetables (tomatoes, mushrooms, bean sprouts, corn)
  4. Protein (if using — egg, meat, fish, or cheese)
  5. Pasta or grains
  6. Nuts, raisins, croutons
  7. Leafy greens

I use wide-mouth (the better to layer the ingredients) quart-size mason jars, never plastic containers. There is nothing wrong with plastic containers if you don’t have mason jars, but the salad can last up to five days in glass as opposed to one or two in plastic.

FYI: If using avocado, always toss it with a little lemon juice before adding it to the jar — it keeps it from browning.

That’s it. Make and store and go! I don’t eat the salad out of the jar — too messy and awkward — so I suggest you shake the jar before you pour the entire mixture on to a plate or bowl; mix to combine; then eat.

Corn and Black-Bean Salad in a Jar

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups chunky salsa
  • 8 oz. plain yogurt (Greek is good too)
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups canned corn, drained
  • 2 avocados, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed
  • 6 cups romaine or red-leaf lettuce, shredded or chopped

Directions:

Divide the salsa among the jars. Divide the yogurt among the jars. Layer in the following order: tomatoes, onions, celery, beans, corn, avocado, cheese, and then lettuce on top. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate.

Jerusalem in a Jar

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of your favorite vinaigrette
  • 1 can artichoke-heart pieces
  • 1 can black olives, cut into pieces
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 3 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 3 Tbsp. minced parsley

Directions:

Divide the ingredients among the six jars, starting with the vinaigrette and ending with the parsley.

© Eileen Goltz

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher foods writer. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes columns for the CJN in Chicago, kosherscoop.com, and the OU Shabbat Shalom website, www.ou.org. She also wrote the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim). 

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