Ajar

Recipe & photos by Brandon Matzek

Canning jars are everywhere right now. Aside from their original intended use (storing preserves), these trendy containers have taken up employment as cocktail shakers, flower vases and lighting fixtures. Recently, my favorite way to utilize a canning jar has been for weekday lunches - particularly, Salad in a Jar. On Sundays, when my free time is a little more abundant, I like to prepare several of these jarred salads to eat throughout the week. Salad ingredients are layered inside a large canning jar in such a way that keeps the greens crisp and fresh.

Here's the breakdown:

Layer 1: Salad Dressing.
L
iquid ingredients must stay at the bottom of the jar to keep the greens fresh. Be sure to keep your Salad in a Jar upright while transporting to avoid a premature toss.

Layer 2: Hard Vegetables.
Onion, fennel, bell pepper, carrot and celery can all sit in the salad dressing for several days and still retain their pleasant, crunchy textures.

Layer 3: Beans and Grains.
Cooked beans add energy-boosting protein and nutrients; while grains like rice, barley and farro provide substance.

Layer 4: Proteins.
Cured meats like salami and chorizo can sit in the jar for several days. Proteins like diced chicken, canned tuna, and hard-boiled eggs should be added the day you plan on eating the salad.

Layer 5: Nuts and Seeds.
Chopped almonds, walnuts and pistachios add nice crunch. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are easy, lower-calorie additions.

Layer 6: Greens and Herbs.
Soft greens and herbs should be layered away from liquids to maintain their desirable texture.

O

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Softer fruit and vegetables, like avocado, tomatoes and strawberries, grated cheeses and croutons, are best left out of the jar. Add them as desired right before eating the salad.

Infused with flavors of Spain, the salad I made here is a satisfying example of this layering strategy. But don't feel constrained by the ingredients I chose. Be creative - Salad in a Jar variations are practically endless.


SALAD IN A JAR

Ingredients
For the sherry vinaigrette:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 scant tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 dab of honey (about an 1/8 of a teaspoon)
1/2 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
Sliced fennel
Sliced red onions
Cooked white beans (rinsed if from a can)
Sliced Spanish chorizo, casing removed
Chopped Marcona almonds
Baby arugula (or other salad green)
Fresh parsley leaves

Process
Shake it up.
Add extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and minced garlic to a small canning jar. Season with 2 pinches of salt and several turns of black pepper. Cap the jar, and then shake until ingredients are well combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. The vinaigrette should be a bit over-salty since it will be providing the salt for the other salad ingredients as well.

L

ayers of flavor.

Put 2 - 4 tablespoons of sherry vinaigrette in the bottom of a large (26 - 32 oz.) canning jar. Add ingredients to taste in the following order: sliced fennel, sliced red onions, cooked white beans, sliced Spanish chorizo, baby arugula and fresh parsley leaves. You'll want about 1/3 of the jar filled with toppings (like the fennel and chorizo), and 2/3 of the jar filled with greens (arugula and parsley). Cap the jar, and then store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Simply served.

When you are ready to eat the salad, shake the contents in the jar, and then transfer to a large plate.

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