Mason jars, most of us use them for storing nuts, seeds, sauces, jams, and even homemade body butters, but did you know that they are also perfect for storing your favourite salads for the ultimate lunch on the go?
The idea behind a mason jar salad is to pack all of the ingredients in such a way that nothing goes soggy – the dressing goes at the bottom of the jar followed by all of your other amazing salad goodies (leafy greens always on the top). When it gets to lunch time simply tip the contents of jar upside down into a bowl, toss the salad, and enjoy. You can literally make a full week’s worth of lunches all at once – it’s meal prep at its best.
A vibrant summer salad that marries sweet butternut squash and pomegranate with salty feta, crunchy almonds, and a gorgeous red wine and mint vinaigrette.
I’ve opted for a red wine and mint vinaigrette to pair with sweet and succulent butternut squash noodles, spiralized red onion, salty and tangy feta cheese, sweet pomegranate, almonds and pumpkin seeds, all topped with an extra sprig of fresh mint for good measure. All of the flavours and colours just combine for the most perfect salad ever. The best thing about this salad though is that you can tailor it to suit your own taste preferences and nutritional needs – don’t eat dairy? Opt for grilled chicken breast instead. Vegan? Swap the feta for tempeh or marinated tofu. The options are actually endless! You could also swap the pomegranate for orange or pear!
I know raw butternut squash might sound a little weird but once it marinates in the dressing it almost cures, making it firm to the bite but not so tough that you’ll find it tough to eat. This salad is by far my most favourite creation yet and my kids all loved it – there wasn’t a scrap left on anyone’s plate!
This recipe does call for a spiraliser – I use the Benriner as it allows you to spiralise vertically, working with gravity rather than against it. I’d highly recommend investing in one – and no I wasn’t sent one for review or paid to sponsor them – not that it would make a difference to what I actually think of it. If you can’t get a spiraliser, a juilienne peeler also works wonders, and a potato peeler will create thicker ribbons. Sometimes when I just don’ t have the willpower to go spiraliser crazy I just chuck the butternut squash through the food processor to shred it. Just do whatever works for you!
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp fresh mint (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Zest ½ large lemon
- 1 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt (if coarse grind)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 clove garlic (peeled)
- The top (narrow) end of 1 large butternut squash (peeled)
- 1 red onion (peeled)
- 400g feta cheese
- Seeds of 2 pomegranates
- ½ cup mixed nuts and seeds
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- Start by whisking together the red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh mint, maple syrup, and lemon zest into a small bowl.
- In a pestle and mortar grind together your salt, dried basil, and garlic into a paste. Scrape the paste into the vinaigrette mix and whisk together. Alternatively you can place all of the dressing ingredients into a high powered blender. Spoon 3-4 tbsp of the dressing into each of the 500ml mason jars and set to one side.
- Next take the top section of your butternut squash (the narrow seedless part), carefully peel, and then spiralise using your 2nd thickest noodle blade. You'll probably have to cut it into two chunks rather than just the one to fit it into the spiraliser. Divide your spiralised butternut squash equally between each jar and press down with the back of a spoon.
- Spiralise your red onion and divide equally between all 4 jars, again gently press down with the back of a spoon.
- Add 100g cubed feta, followed by the seeds of ½ a pomegranate, ⅛ cup of mixed nuts and seeds of your choice (I used pumpkin seeds and almonds), and lastly a sprig of mint into each jar.
- Seal with an airtight lid and place into the refrigerator until needed. Consume within 5 days of making. To eat simply tip the contents of the jar upside down into a bowl and toss the salad.