Asian Salad In A Jar: A Fun Make-Ahead Appetizer
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This Salad In A Jar Recipe has brown-butter-roasted peanuts, Asian pear and a sesame lemon vinaigrette. It’s easy for any day but also fun for a dinner party appetizer. This post is part of a year-long series of wine-paired recipes that Columbia Crest has hired me to develop. To see all my Columbia Crest wine-paired recipes, click here.
I’ll admit that I originally found the concept of a salad in a jar to be as unnecessary as a margarita maker. I mean, I have a blender. What on earth do I need a margarita maker for?
Back then I thought the idea was merely a new way of presenting something we eat all the time. What’s the point of the jar? Seriously.
But I was wrong.
It turns out that salad in a jar isn’t as extraneous as a margarita maker. Putting salad into a jar actually makes sense.
Here’s why. You can make several salads at once, put the lids on, and keep them in the fridge for grab-and-go lunches all week. The glass and the tight seal somehow keep things cold and fresh for a long time.
How to make a Salad IN A Jar (and why the ingredients don’t end up soggy):
Even though the salad contains dressing, the ingredients are layered to prevent sogginess. You put the dressing at the bottom of the jar topped with harder less absorbent ingredients (think nuts, seeds, celery, bell pepper). Softer, more absorbent ingredients (tomatoes, cucumbers) go next so they don’t come into contact with the dressing. Lettuce or other greens are at the very top where they stay crisp and fresh.
So the jar itself and the way things are layered keep the salad fresh in the fridge for days. But there’s something even cooler about this whole idea:
You don’t eat this salad out of the jar. You invert it onto a plate. When you invert it, the greens topple out first, forming the base of your salad. Then come the absorbent veggies and then the harder ingredients. Finally, the dressing from the bottom of the jar drips over it all.
Salad In A Jar is most often used as a quick lunch solution. But it occurred to me that if salad in a jar can keep in the fridge for several days and still be fresh and crunchy, then why couldn’t one be used as a make-ahead appetizer?
Make-Ahead Salad In A Jar Dinner Party Appetizer:
A day or so before your gathering pour some dressing into as many jars as you’ll have guests. Top with your crunchy ingredients, then your watery vegetables, then your lettuce. Put the lids on and refrigerate. You can tie a pretty ribbon or twine around the jars and serve. Don’t forget to show everyone how to invert their jars onto plates. They’ll love the dinner table participation.
When it comes to making this recipe for company, you probably want to make it a little fancier than you would for work.
This salad is just the thing. It has a Sesame Lemon Vinaigrette, some red bell pepper, celery and bamboo shoots. Then there’s some chopped Asian pear, which has crunch and bit of sweetness. And, the best part, brown-butter-roasted peanuts. You’ll be snacking on these while you layer your salads for sure. (Don’t worry, I took this into account when writing the peanut recipe. There’s enough for the salads and for snacking).
This salad gets even better if you pair it with Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay. The butter on the peanuts highlights the creaminess of the wine and the Asian pear brings out its white fruit flavors.
Here’s my Asian Salad In A Jar Recipe:
Salad in a jar is the perfect dish for entertaining. You make the individual salads up to 24 hours ahead of time. Put on the lids and refrigerate. Serve the salads in the jars, instructing your guests to invert them onto their plates. The dressing at the bottom of the jar will be the last thing out and will gently splash every morsel. This particular salad has a slight Asian influence of peanuts, Asian pear, sesame oil and bean sprouts. This salad is fantastic with the Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay. The brown butter roasted peanuts highlight the creaminess of the wine and the pear brings out its lovely white fruit flavors.
For the Salad
- 3 Tbsp grape seed oil
- 2 Tbsp plus ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- a pinch of salt
- ½ of a red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 Asian pear
- 30 bean sprouts
- 4 oz. Brown-Butter-Roasted Peanuts (recipe below)
- 6 large basil leaves
- 9 cups arugula or spring mix salad greens
For the Butter-Roasted Peanuts
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, in small pieces
- 8 oz. raw blanched shelled peanuts
- ½ tsp. table salt
- ¼ tsp. coarse salt
Make the Butter-Roasted Peanuts
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Arrange butter in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Put it into the oven until melted, 3-5 minutes.
- Add the peanuts and the table salt. Stir to coat. Bake stirring every 5 minutes until peanuts and butter are both lightly browned, 15-20 minutes (note that peanuts will continue to cook and darken after being removed from the oven so under cooking is better than overcooking at this stage).
- Sprinkle peanuts with coarse salt and then immediately transfer to a large shallow bowl or pan to cool before using in salad or eating them as a snack.
For the Salad
- In a small bowl whisk together the grape seed oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the honey, mustard, sesame oil and salt. Divide among 6-16 ounce mason jars. Divide the bell pepper, celery and bean sprouts among the jars.
- Core and chop the Asian pear. Toss with ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. Divide pear among the jars. Top each with one sixth of the peanuts.
- Tear one basil leaf into each jar. Divide the arugula among the jars, packing it in tightly. Screw on lids and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.
- To serve, invert salads onto dinner plates using a fork to help get all of the ingredients out.
Disclosure: I was paid by Columbia Crest Winery to develop this recipe to pair with their wine, to photograph the recipe, post it on my blog and promote it on social media. They also provided me with wine to help develop the recipe and determine a good pairing. All opinions are my own.