These simple but satisfying vegetarian mason jar salads feature rotini pasta, mozzarella pearls, and chickpeas along with veggies and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. This salad is so easy to throw together and works perfectly for meal prep lunches!
As trendy as it might seem, meal-prepping salads in mason jars is actually a very convenient way to prep a grab-and-go lunch. It makes the salads easy to transport and they can easily be shaken up in the jar without making a mess.
These vegetarian mason jar salads make four servings that can be enjoyed for lunch the entire week. They do have pasta which makes them veer into pasta salad territory, but it also makes them more satisfying than just a simple side salad.
Like my chickpea salad sandwiches, this recipe is perfect for those who are looking for staple vegetarian lunch recipes.
- Healthy & balanced: Made with a nutritious balance of vegetables, carbs, protein, fats, and flavor. The portion sizes can easily be adjusted to your liking.
- Easy to customize: Feel free to get creative and use these mason jar salads as a template! Swap out the pasta for protein pasta, use vegan mozzarella, different fresh veggies, etc.
- Quick & easy: Ready in under 30 minutes. The only cooking required is boiling the pasta and cooking the lentils.
- These are great for meal prep lunches because the salad ingredients are layered so that they keep well for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Cooked pasta: I use rotini pasta. You can use whole wheat pasta, protein pasta, or gluten-free pasta.
- Mozzarella pearls add a pop of salty, cheesy goodness. You can also buy a large ball of mozzarella and slice it up (similar to this peach Caprese salad).
- Diced red onion adds a pop of flavor. Shallots would also work well.
- Chickpeas and lentils are the main sources of protein. I cook lentils from dry, but you can save on prep time by using a can of lentils instead.
- Romaine lettuce: Slice up a head of romaine lettuce or save prep time by buying pre-sliced romaine.
- Cherry tomatoes: Grape tomatoes also work.
A good salad in a jar recipe is all about the layers. Since these jars make four servings of meal prep, that's four days that they'll be sitting in the fridge.
Note: 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 are several at the thrift store (that's where most of mine are from).
We want to layer ingredients so that they avoid sogginess and stay crisp. Put the ingredients in the jar in this order for the best salad quality:
- Bottom layer: Balsamic vinaigrette
- Sliced cherry tomatoes/red onion/vegetable layer
- Lentil/chickpea layer
- Mozzarella pearls
- Romaine lettuce
Shake the jar together just before eating to distribute the balsamic vinaigrette, or pour it into a bowl to serve.
Like I said earlier, mason jar salads are easy to customize. Use this recipe as a template if you're making salads using just the ingredients that you have on hand, or if you want to use up some ingredients from the pantry/fridge.
- Vegetables: Any diced fresh vegetable goes well here. Try adding shredded carrots, bell pepper, diced cucumber, fresh olives, diced tomato, etc.
- Grains: To make this recipe gluten-free, quinoa is a great option. You can also switch up the pasta with gluten-free pasta, protein pasta, and vegetable pasta.
- Legumes: This recipe originally used crispy chickpeas, but I changed it to regular chickpeas because crispy chickpeas lose their texture over time. That being said, they're still a good option! Other options include white beans, different varieties of lentils, black beans, etc.
- Greens: Spinach or kale also work.
- Salad dressings: Lemon vinaigrette is another delicious option. Check out my guide to salad dressings for more ideas.
- Make it vegan by using vegan mozzarella in place of mozzarella pearls.
Looking for more meal prep recipes?
I also have a quinoa chickpea salad in a jar recipe. You might like my vegetarian pasta salad or Mediterranean couscous salad. Tofu & veggie spring roll bowls are another one of my go-to meal prep ideas!
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Vegetarian Mason Jar Salad
- 8 ounces dry rotini
- ½ cup dry brown lentils rinsed and sorted
- 1 and ½ cups water or vegetable broth
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 cup diced red onion from ½ red onion
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 6 ounces mozzarella pearls
- 1 large head romaine chopped into 2" pieces (see note #1)
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for tossing with cooked pasta
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Cook rotini according to package instructions. Meanwhile, combine lentils and water in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain off excess water.
- Make the balsamic vinaigrette by whisking together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Alternatively, add ingredients to a small lidded jar (such as a small Ball jar) and shake until combined.
- To assemble the salads: Add 3 tablespoons vinaigrette to the bottom of a wide-mouthed Ball jar. Divide the remaining ingredients evenly between four jars in this order: cherry tomatoes, diced onion, chickpeas, lentils, pasta, mozzarella pearls, romaine lettuce.
- Close jars and refrigerate up to 4 days. To serve, shake the salads in the jars to combine the ingredients or pour out into a bowl.
- Romaine: One head of romaine yields 6 cups cleaned and chopped lettuce, or roughly 14-16 ounce prepackage lettuce. I use this salad spinner to make cleaning and prepping salad easier. I basically stuff as much lettuce as I can fit into the jars.
- Customization ideas: Choose whole wheat or protein pasta in place of regular rotini. Try bell peppers in place of (or in addition to) diced red onions. You can use store-bought roasted chickpeas to cut down on time.
- To make vegan: Omit mozzarella balls and replace with an equal amount of homemade cashew parmesan or vegan mozzarella.
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