Rotini pasta, mozzarella pearls and crispy chickpeas are tied together with veggies and a balsamic vinaigrette in this meal prep-approved Vegetarian Pasta Salad in a Jar.
I go back and forth between liking and disliking meal prep. Some Sundays I'm all about getting lunch ready for the week.
Other weeks I prefer to eat something different every day, which is where this mason jar salad comes in.
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I think you'll love this pasta salad because it's super customizable -- choose your favorite greens and pasta -- and the recipe can easily be cut in half or doubled.
Like my chickpea salad sandwiches, this recipe is perfect for those who are new to meal prep.
The best part? It takes under an hour to put these Mason jar salads together and most of that time is spent waiting on the chickpeas to roast.
Salad in a Jar recipes are all about the layers. Since these jars make four servings of meal prep, that's four days that they'll be hanging out in the fridge.
We want to layer ingredients so that they avoid sogginess and stay crisp.
- Bottom layer: Balsamic vinaigrette
- Rotini pasta (it soaks up some of that good balsamic flavor!)
- Sliced cherry tomatoes
- Diced red onion
- Mozzarella pearls
- Romaine lettuce
- Top layer: Crispy chickpeas
Crispy chickpeas will get less crisp the longer they sit in the fridge. For best results, keep crispy chickpeas at room temp and add to the salad just before eating.
The combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil is simple but delightful. If possible, use higher quality balsamic and olive oil. Just spending a few extra dollars on these ingredients can really improve flavor.
We will also add pepper, Italian seasoning and whole grain mustard.
Pro tip: Add whole grain mustard (that's the kind that has seeds in it) to your balsamic vinaigrette to create an emulsion. The seeds in the mustard help hold the balsamic and oil together and adds a little extra flavor.
The mustard flavor is not very strong, so if you're not a fan of mustard you may actually like this vinaigrette.
- Use kale, spinach or spring mix in place of romaine
- Instead of regular rotini, use whole wheat or protein pasta for additional nutrients like protein and fiber
- If you're not a fan of raw onion, diced red bell pepper will give a similar crunch
- Baby mozzarella balls not available? Try shredded mozzarella instead
- Make it vegan by omitting mozzarella entirely -- replace with your favorite vegan shreds or add homemade cashew parmesan
I put my salads in these wide mouth 32 ounce Ball jars (also known as mason jars). They're available at most grocery stores, on Amazon, and usually there's several at the thrift store (that's where most of mine are from).
Eat the salad straight out of the jar (that's my preferred way) or pour it out into a bowl.