It's summer in the hot, humid city I call home, which means I'm craving cool summer salads. And while there are some great places to get colorful salads here in Charleston (I'm looking at you, Verde), I am still looking for easy ways to create budget-friendly salads that I can take with me on the go.
The Mason Jar Salad is a great solution. Hipster container and Yoga ingredients combine to create the most Pinterest-y salad of all time! The key to these salads is proper layering order. A lot of great resources (I'm looking at you, Buzzfeed) recommend that you put the salad dressing on the bottom to avoid soggy lettuce.
I have a more effective solution. Go to your local party store and invest in some small plastic souffle cups with lids. Mason Jars are water tight, so with the souffle cup, you can put them in your bag and not worry about them staying upright and sloshing the dressing around.
Layering order is important, here is what I've found works best, from bottom to top.
Beans, tomatoes, lentils, any roasted vegetables such as beets
Crunchy vegetables; such as carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper
Cooked grains; such as quinoa, farro or brown rice
Any type of Greens
Salad Dressing in Souffle Cup
Of course, you're probably not going to use all of these things at once but it give you a general idea of order. One of my favorite Mason Jar Salads is my Smoky Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing. It turns the classic lines of a Cobb Salad on its side. And since avocado tends to brown if not eaten immediately, I've incorporated one of my favorite foods into the dressing.
Smoky Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess
Place the chicken breast, smoked paprika and olive oil in a small bowl. Toss to evenly coat the chicken. Smoked paprika gives you that rich, smoky flavor without the traditional bacon.
Place the chicken in the bottom of the mason jar. Layer the rest of the ingredients in the order listed, ending with the dressing in a small souffle cup.**
To eat, pour ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat with the dressing.
* I highly recommend purchasing an already cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. Saves you time plus is usually the same price or less than purchasing a whole chicken and roasting it yourself.
** If you can't find the souffle cups, the dressing can be packaged in a small snack baggie or, of course, at the bottom of the mason jar.