How to Make Your Best Summer Salad Ever

posted: 05/30/15
by: Mara Betsch
mason jar salad

Without fail, when it warms up enough to break out my swimsuit, I inevitably think "I should probably eat more salads." But what stops me from eating them year-round is 1: they take a decent amount of time to prepare and 2: they're always wilted or soggy by lunch. Naturally, Pinterest had an answer -- mason jar salads! My first reaction was "who has time for that nonsense?" But desperate times (an upcoming vacation that involved my size-2 sister), called for desperate measures, and I decided to try them out.

Out of protest, I decided to swap mason jars for the poor lady's version -- old Chinese soup containers. And, I have to admit that the results were pretty great. I chopped enough veggies to make a few of them, stored them in the fridge, and thew one in my bag before I left for work every day. I felt better, ate healthier, and have declared myself a mason jar salad convert. Want to make your own? Here's how:

Layer 1: Dressing. Whether you like vinaigrettes or ranch, just add a bit to the bottom later of your favorite vertical container.

Layer 2: Vegetables. This is where you should layer any chopped cucumbers, carrots, peppers, corn, peas, etc. I'd hold off on the tomatoes until you get to a higher layer so they don't break down under the pressure of top layers.

Layer 3: Beans, rice, pasta etc. To ensure you're not starving at 3 pm, I recommend adding chickpeas, black beans (especially, if you're doing a Tex-Mex-themed salad), orzo, rice, or spiral-shaped pasta.

Layer 4: Protein and/or cheese. This is where you put chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, tofu and whatever else you'd like to top your salad with. Put harder cheeses here, too.

Layer 5. Softer veggies and fruit. Add in tomatoes, avocado, and other salad favorites.

Layer 6. Lettuce. Finally, you're ready to add in arugula, spinach or your green of choice. And if you'd like to add walnuts, sunflower seeds or other nuts, this is the time to do it. Screw on the top and you're ready to go.

For inspiration, try some of these combos:

A protein-packed option: Lemon-based vinaigrette, broccoli, corn, peas, cooked quinoa, chickpeas, shredded Parmesan, spinach, and pumpkin seeds
A taco-inspired salad: Honey-lime dressing, corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, romaine lettuce
An upgraded chicken salad: Balsamic vinaigrette, roasted red peppers, red onion, cooked orzo, chicken breast, spinach
Zucchini-pasta salad from Sugar-Free Mom: Avocado dressing (spinach, avocado, Greek yogurt, lemon, olive oil), celery, red bell pepper, edamame, feta cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, spiraled zucchini