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Make Salads in a Jar for your Next Picnic!

My daughters planned a delightful Mother’s Day picnic for me this last Sunday. They served Mediterranean Salads in a Jar and Caprese Sandwiches, made with turkey, sliced mozzarella, basil pesto, and sliced tomatoes with a balsamic glaze—all my favorite flavors! Although it rained here in Colorado and we had to eat inside, our picnic was delightful.

I love it when my children introduce me to new things. Quite honestly, I had never heard of Salads in a Jar, but they are amazing. The dressing goes in first on the bottom of the jar. Any veggies like beans and onions that are good pickled in dressing go in next, followed by grains and protein, and then veggies. Fresh greens are layered last so they don’t come into contact with the dressing and get soggy. To serve, you give the jar a good shake so the dressing is thoroughly mixed among all the ingredients, eat it directly from the jar, or dump the salad into a bowl. Perfect for a picnic or taking to the office for lunch. Bonus! These salads will last four to five days in the refrigerator.

My daughters made a Mediterranean salad for Mother’s Day, which included garbanzo beans, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and baby spinach. They marinated the garbanzo beans overnight in harissa, a fiery hot sauce made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin,, coriander, and olive oil. Before I could include their recipe in my blog, I had to make it. My version follows. I added BelGioioso® Fresh Ciliegine Mozzarella balls. You can put just about anything in Salads in a Jar from chicken to cheese to quinoa. The following chart demonstrates the assembly technique.

Mason jars are either 16 or 32 ounces. My daughters used the 16-ounce size. A wider mouth jar will be more convenient if you plan to eat your salad directly from the jar.

Mediterranean Salads in a Jar Makes 9 jars

The night before:

1 can (15.5 ounces) garbanzo beans 1 cup harissa Juice of 1 lemon (4 tablespoons)

In a small bowl, combine garbanzo beans, harissa, and lemon juice, cover, and marinate overnight.

For the dressing: Makes enough for 9 jars

½ cup extra virgin olive oil ½ cup lemon juice 2 teaspoons garlic, minced 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon large grind black pepper

For the salad:

Marinated garbanzo beans ½ red onion, chopped 1 cucumber, chopped 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered BelGioioso® Fresh Ciliegine Mozzarella balls, halved Baby spinach

Place 2 tablespoons dressing in the bottom of each Mason jar. Evenly divide garbanzo beans, chopped red onion, chopped cucumber, and quartered cherry tomato quarters among the jars. Place 4 halves of Cileginie mozzarella balls in each jar and top with baby spinach. Seal tightly.

Tips on shopping for red onions: Examine the sprout end of Italian red onions. It often times is sunken. This is the first place spoilage will begin. Do not buy the Italian red onion if it has a soft, deeply sunken, yellow top.

Tips on storing cherry tomatoes: Your supermarket does not refrigerate cherry tomatoes. Place only ripened cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator. Cool temperatures slow the ripening process.

Tips on shopping for spinach: Spinach should be deep green in color with crisp, perky leaves. Do not buy spinach if it has yellow or broken leaves. Shop with your nose. If you smell an unpleasant odor, pass. If you are buying bagged spinach, inspect the bag carefully. Spinach deteriorates quickly. Also, check the “Best if Used by Date” to be sure it hasn’t passed its freshness date.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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