It’s official, we’ve gotten over the February hump — yay! That’s big, people. Now all we have to do is over-indulge a little bit on St Paddy’s Day, and when we come to…it’ll be APRIL! I’m celebrating today with a hint of what’s awaiting us a little bit down the road. I love using mason jars for individual portions of salad. It ups the ‘cute’ factor, and when food is cute, I just enjoy it more. Dress ’em up for a shower, or dress ’em down for a picnic. Small, wide mouthed jars are perfectly sized for medium tomatoes and slices of mozzarella, it was meant to be… I layer in lots of fresh basil leaves and douse it with my best olive oil and fruitiest vinegar. By the time I’m ready to eat, the flavors will have marinated into the tomatoes and cheese, and it’s wonderful.
The generic term mason jar refers to glass jars used for home canning. They were invented in the mid 1800s, and lots of different styles have evolved since then, both in America and Europe. Of course you can use them for canning, but they can also hold everything from desserts and cocktails, to tea lights and wild flowers, so why not salads? They make perfect individual portion sized containers for entertaining, taking to work, or just stocking the fridge with grabbable healthy choices.
Salads in jars is an idea that has been popular for a while now, but if you ask me, it’s mostly hype and not very practical, unless you follow a few simple rules. For one, you need to use portion sized, wide mouthed jars in order to facilitate the eating part…which is the whole point, right? Skip jars that are too big or taper too much toward the top. And there are a few different ways to go about putting caprese salad in a jar. You can layer sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves in the jar, like I did, above. You can spoon the olive oil and vinegar into the jar and close it up. Then, when you’re ready to eat, you can turn it upside down on a plate and enjoy. The dressing at the bottom drizzles down the salad and it’s all neatly stacked.
But if you want to sidestep the whole plate issue, and want something even more convenient, layer up micro basil, tiny tomatoes, and pearl mozzarella, that way, you can eat it right out of the container. The only catch here is that you can’t put the dressing on ahead of time, the delicate microgreens will wilt.
Either way it’s a smart way to store and serve portions of caprese salad for a party, picnic, or working lunch. I recommend making them the same day you’re going to eat them, though. Tomatoes don’t do well overnight in the fridge, they’ll get mushy. And if you are using basil leaves, keep them whole, don’t cut or bruise them, they’ll stay fresher that way.
- micro basil, or regular basil leaves (don't cut or tear the whole leaves)
- fresh mozzarella, either in a large balls for slicing, or little pearl sized balls
- fresh medium sized tomatoes, or very small cherry tomatoes
- salt and black pepper
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar (or your choice)
- Layer the greens, tomatoes, and cheese in clean jars. Season with salt and pepper as you layer.
- For the regular basil, add the dressing to the jar before closing. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp of oil, followed by 1 Tbsp of vinegar. Cap and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, turn the jar upside down onto a salad plate and enjoy.
- If you are using micro basil, don't add the dressing until ready to eat.
Micro greens have totally captured my heart. They aren’t a newfangled type of green, they are just the babiest of babies, harvested super early. One thing I like about them is that they are so easy to eat, they practically jump right on to your fork and cling perfectly, as opposed to so many spring mix lettuces that are nearly impossible to get from the plate to your mouth. And don’t think that because they are micro they don’t have flavor — if anything the flavor seems more vivid to me. My store usually has several varieties available, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…they were out of basil the day I made these, so I substituted micro arugla — and it was fantastic, so go with what you can find.
So what do you think of salads in jars…cute? Stupid idea? Go ahead, be honest, I can take it…
(Pssst… you can still enter to win one of those gorgeous handwoven rag rugs from Vermont Rug Farm for your kitchen, the giveaway ends tomorrow, HERE’s the post)