Who says salads are boring? Or for that matter, confined to a bowl? Whipping up a salad in a jar is as easy as layering your ingredients — with a few handy tricks and tips to keep everything fresh, crisp and flavorful.
I tried this easy-to-make recipe that’s more about ingredient combination and assembly than fancy culinary techniques. It’s also wallet friendly and can be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. Plus, it’s the perfect lunchtime packable for when you’d rather have something fresh over takeout.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup canned, low-sodium black beans, drained
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 avocado, diced
1 tablespoon reduced fat sour cream
Like all good salad in a jar recipes, this one starts out by having the cook make the salad dressing first. Layering in that ingredient into your preserving jar first is always a good idea — that way, your lettuce and other vegetables stay fresh and crunchy (instead of dressing-logged and sadly soggy).
The cooked quinoa goes on top of the dressing (to soak up some flavor), followed by the black beans and then the vegetables. Tip: If you want to boost your flavor, cook your quinoa in low sodium broth.
The recipe advises a handy hint called smart layering: “Put sturdy ingredients like grains and beans on top of dressing to create a leak barrier. The salsa under the sour cream further protects the lettuce. When you open it up and mix, the flavors will still be fresh!” And that’s key to a good salad.
As with all recipes, have fun and play with your favorite flavor combinations. If you prefer chickpeas or Romano beans to black beans, use those instead. Don’t fancy cilantro? No problem — replace with chives, parsley, or a mix of your preferred herbs instead.
Other ideas include adding cubed, cooked chicken, some flaked tuna, sliced cold cuts or precooked turkey. Shredded low-fat mozzarella or cheddar cheese would make another tasty addition.
I added a little lime juice and olive oil to the quick salsa layer to give that layer more oomph and a pinch of cumin powder to the salad dressing.
The final verdict on this recipe is that it’s a great weeknight alternative to takeout or fast food. My only other extra addition: adding a few slivers of toasted corn tortilla chips for added texture and crunch. It was a hit with the kiddo and the husband; I’ll be making this again!