BBQ Ranch Chicken Salads in Mason Jars

I know, I know - another "salad in a jar" post. They're all over Pinterest, and they're all the rage on the food blogs - I get it. It's overkill. HOWEVER - trendy cuteness aside - this is the best way to prepare lunch salads for an entire week at once and ensure that you'll have a crisp, perfect salad every single day. Because storing these salads in air-tight glass jars does just that - keeps the lettuce and all of the other ingredients as crisp and fresh as the day you made them. It's magic, I tell you. Mostly this is just a great way to ensure that The Mr. gets a healthy lunch every afternoon - on Sunday evenings I make up enough salads for the entire week, and each morning he just grabs a jar (and some accompanying treats, of course) and sticks it in his briefcase for work. Refrigerate until lunch time, then just pour into a bowl, give it a little toss, and you've got a fresh salad with absolutely no effort whatsoever. Seriously - this is even easier than a salad bar! This past week we've been enjoying BBQ ranch chicken salads, but the options here are absolutely endless - you can pretty much put anything you want in this jar (besides avocado - unfortunately that doesn't stand up too well) as long as you follow the rules and add the ingredients in a specific order. Namely - dressing at the bottom, other wet or semi-wet ingredients that don't get soggy (i.e. beans) next, then the rest of your ingredients, ending with lettuce on the top with a bit of croutons. That way your lettuce stays nice and fresh and doesn't get soggy or wilted - and the beans (or chicken, or tomatoes, or lentils, whatever you've got in there) basically marinate in the dressing and get even more delicious and zingy. I use the wide-mouth 24 oz (pint and a half) sized Mason jars and they're the perfect size for a medium/large lunch salad. It won't look like much when it's stuffed into the jar, but once you pour it into a bowl, it's a substantial salad. 

The measurements aren't super exact here - it's a salad - go with the flow. I know I like less chicken and more tomatoes in my salad - if you prefer the opposite, do just that. Put in whatever you like!

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salads in Mason Jars

yields 5 jars of salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2-2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped 
  • pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can of no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 10 oz grilled chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp ranch dressing (I used Newman's Own)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp crispy tortilla strips or croutons
Instructions:
  • In a small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and ranch dressing. Drop a generous 2 Tbsp of the mixture into the bottom of each jar. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients in this order: about 3 Tbsp of black beans, 1 chopped green onion, 1/5 of the tomatoes, a heaping tablespoon of corn, 2 oz chopped chicken, 1 oz grated cheddar. Then stuff the rest of the jar (don't pack it in, but do press down to compact the ingredients) with romaine lettuce. Top with 2 Tbsp croutons or crispy tortilla strips. 
  • Tightly screw on the jar lids and store salads in the fridge for up to one week. Pour salad into a bowl and lightly toss before eating. 

Find similar recipes at Feastie:

Bbq Chicken Chopped Salad from Iowa Girl Eats
Crockpot Turkey Taco Salad from Crockpot Gourmet
Barbecue Chicken Salad from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Black Bean Chicken Salad from Good Food Good Friends
Chopped Chicken BBQ Salad from The Rookie Cook

Comments

What a brilliant idea! Thanks!
Shashi @ Runninsrilankan(dot)com

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