Fresh, flavourful and great for taking on the go, these Mediterranean vegetarian salad jars are an easy make-ahead lunch. Make three (or more!) at a time, and grab directly from the fridge for an easy, speedy meal.
Are you on the salad jar bus yet? If not, I have your pass. These Mediterranean salad jars tick all the boxes for a fresh, easy and satisfying (yet light!) lunch.
They’re a great healthy meal prep recipe, meaning you can whip up multiple at a time to enjoy across the week. You don’t have to worry about them going limp or soggy either (blegh!) – with a little strategic layering of ingredients, these salad jars will remain fresh and crisp.
The flavours are inspired on one of the few ‘diets’ I’d ever advocate for, and one that is equally delicious as it is nutritious – the Mediterranean diet. This traditional way of eating, inspired by countries boarding the Mediterranean sea, is associated with numerous health benefits, from encouraging heart-health to protecting brain function (1).
Ingredients & Substitutions
Packed with vegetables, legumes and heart-healthy fats, this balanced lunch idea will keep you satisfied into the afternoon! You’ll need:
Chickpeas. A good source of plant protein and fibre. A 400g can is 1 ½ cups, which is a perfect ½ cup serving per jar.
Orzo. Sometimes known as risoni, orzo is a type of pasta that’s shaped like large grains of rice. It’s tender, smooth texture makes it great served cold in salads. Not keen on orzo? Sub in quinoa or more chickpeas.
Fresh salad. Total Greek salad vibes here with cucumber, capsicum and tomatoes (plus baby rocket for good measure!).
Sun-dried tomatoes. Fresh AND sun-dried tomatoes?! They bring different flavours to the table. Sun-dried tomatoes have an intense sweet-tart flavour, that’s more potent than fresh tomatoes.
Kalamata olives. Go for pitted olives, otherwise make sure to remove the pit (if you forget, and enthusiastically bite in, a trip to the dentist might be on the cards).
Cows milk feta. A brined white cheese with a tangy, sharp flavour and creamy mouth-feel. Crumbling the cheese disperses an incredible creaminess throughout once mixed.
Greek-style dressing. This recipe calls for a homemade zingy greek-style dressing, which cuts through the creamy feta. You can sub for a store-brought version.
Here are tips to help your kitchen flow:
Use a large jar, around 700ml. I use (and pictured) the ‘Ball Pint and a Half Mason Jar’. This size is big enough to house a main meal, but not so crazy big that you need a mixing bowl to tip it into and eat. A wide-mouth jar is great as it’ll be easier for packing and inverting into a bowl.
Cut produce chunky or leave whole where possible. A goodie of a tip – don’t cut your veg super small. Slightly larger bite-sized pieces are ideal, as it helps keep them fresh and crisp.
Shake your dressing vigorously in a jar. It’s the easiest way to get an emulsion, where the ingredients are evenly incorporated. The consistency will change, becoming thicker, with the colour a melding of ingredients!
Stack ’em smart. Dressing goes on the bottom, followed by non-absorbing ingredients like olives and chickpeas, and the delicate salad on the top. This creates a barrier that keeps the dressing away from anything with the potential to wilt!
This recipes make three jars, so you can prep and enjoy across the week. They keep well for around four days, so if you miss a day a jar will happily sit and wait.
To eat, simply invert into a bowl, give it a good mix and enjoy. Don’t even try plunging a fork into the jar to eat directly from – you’ll quickly get annoyed.
Once you’ve tasted it, feel free to add more vinegar if you want it zingier, or more salt and pepper if needed. You do you!
Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add orzo and cook for ten minutes (make sure to time it and not take it off too soon – orzo absorbs water, getting larger and larger, so if you take it off too soon it will leave you with less! You should be just shy of one cup cooked at the 10 minute mark). Drain and leave to cool (rinsing quickly with cool water speeds this up).
Add all salad dressing ingredients into a jar. Put the lid on and shake vigorously.
Chop cucumber and capsicum into large bite sized pieces.
Divide dressing between 3 glass jars – it should be a little over 2 Tbsp per jar.
Add the olives and sliced sun dried tomatoes, followed by the chickpeas and orzo. Crumble in feta. Top with the tomato, cucumber and capsicum. Finish with the baby rocket.
Tightly screw on the lid. Keep in the fridge until you're ready to eat.
When serving, tip into a bowl, making sure to drizzle out all the dressing. Add a few turns of the salt and pepper shaker and mix well. Taste test – add more vinegar if you want it zingier, more salt and pepper if needed etc.