This amazing Quinoa Chopped Salad is loaded with flavor from the crispy herbed chickpeas, crunchy pancetta and my favorite champagne vinaigrette. It's packed in a jar for an easy weekday lunch at work!
I first started writing this post it was January, a time of year when healthy eating seems to be on everyone's mind. I was just getting ready to start a new job, which meant I needed to think about packing lunches every day and figured I wasn't the only one in that boat so enter this great chopped salad in a jar!
This is the perfect recipe to add to your everyday meals recipe collection. Read on to learn more about how to make this Chopped Salad in a Jar, or jump straight to the recipe to start cooking!
- This recipe is ideal for a weekday lunch or an easy, light dinner.
- This salad is great for a grab-and-go lunch that's easily transportable if you want to take it to work with you.
- This recipe is great for weekly meal prep, as you can make a couple of salads on Sunday and stash them in the refrigerator for a few days.
This is a salad I've been making for years, so when I decided I was going to share it on the blog I wanted to make a few updates. One that was really on my mind was making the chickpeas crunchy like I've had as a topping for hummus in several restaurants.
I wanted to come up with a quick and easy way to get the chickpeas crispy without needing to roast them in the oven for a while, so I came up with the idea of making them crispy by pan-roasting them instead. Check out this post about how to make crispy chickpeas for the details on getting them nice and crunchy. In addition to being great in salads, they make a tasty snack or you can check out these Chickpea Wraps for another easy lunch option. They are definitely a great cook once, eat twice (or three times) recipe.
- Chicken breast: You'll need one large (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast for this recipe.
- Fresh herbs: I generally use thyme, oregano and rosemary but you can use your favorites. You can also substitute dried herbs but cut the amount down to about 2 teaspoons.
- Produce: You'll need a lemon, some grape or cherry tomatoes, an avocado, and some romaine lettuce
- Garbanzo beans: I generally use canned beans.
- Quinoa: I recommend using either white or tri-color quinoa for this salad.
- Blue cheese: You want to use something that crumbles well.
- Pancetta: You can buy thinly sliced and chop it or buy pre-chopped. You can also substitute bacon.
- Sliced almonds: I like sliced almonds over slivered in salads but either type will work.
- Spices: dried minced garlic, sea salt, ground pepper
- Pantry staples: Olive oil, champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, honey
How to make a salad in a jar
I love this recipe because most of the components can be made ahead of time, making it an excellent option for weekly meal prep.
Grill the chicken. Drizzle the chicken with oil and then season with the herbs and lemon juice. Grill it and then cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Make the dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or small mason jar, then whisk them together or shake to combine.
Assemble the salads. When making salad in a jar you want to start by layering in the dressing first, that way it coats everything really well when you pour the salad out of the jar.
- Since you may leave the salad in the refrigerator for a couple of days, the next layer needs to be something that can sit in the dressing for a while. In this case, I added the tomatoes next, however if the beans weren't crispy they would be a good choice as well.
- You'll add lighter ingredients such as quinoa as you get closer to the top of the jar. And you'll always want to finish with the lettuce, as it's the lightest and you want it to come out of the jar first.
- You can add the pancetta & nuts to the jar, however, I prefer to keep them separate and sprinkle them on top just before serving as I like them to stay crunchy!
Serve. When ready to serve, open the jar and pour the contents into a large plate or bowl and toss to combine everything. Top with almonds and pancetta (if desired).
MEAL PREP TIPS
Make assembly easier by meal prepping portions of this recipe!
- Grill the chicken a day or two in advance.
- Cook the quinoa.
- Make the crispy chickpeas. Since they won't be warm when added to the salad they can be made ahead of time.
- Make the vinaigrette.
Additional notes from the kitchen
How long can the salad jar be stored in the refrigerator?
These salads will keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Can all of the ingredients be added to the salad jar?
Yes, this salad is designed to be packed into the jar for storage and easy transportation so if you like, all the ingredients can be added to the jar when you assemble the salad. As noted in the recipe, I often leave the pancetta and nuts off until I'm ready to eat the salad.
Tools you'll want for this recipe
Salad Dressing Mixer – While some might consider one of these a kitchen “gadget” if you eat a lot of salads and are trying to get in the habit of making your own dressing this is a worthwhile item to purchase. It makes it very easy to mix, store and re-mix your dressing.
Mason Jars – Mason jars are an excellent option for storing and transporting food. They are perfect for salads like this and can also be used for breakfast parfaits and soups. Like any storage container, I have a couple of different sizes to accommodate different needs. Small mason jars can also be used for making and storing salad dressing.
More salad recipes
If you are looking for salad recipes check out these reader favorites:
- Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. The addition of sweet strawberries and a tangy lemon vinaigrette to brighten up this classic main dish salad!
- California Turkey Meatball Salad. This healthy salad is packed with fresh flavors to give you a unique and tasty lunch.
Quinoa Chopped Salad
For the chicken:
- 6 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped
- juice from ½ a lemon
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon dried minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ¾ cup Herbed Crispy Chickpeas
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- ¼ cup chopped avocado
- 4 cups chopped romaine or other lettuce
- 2 tablespoons cooked pancetta or bacon, optional
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- Preheat the grill. Heat a grill to medium heat.
- Grill the chicken. Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herbs and lemon juice. Grill for 6 minutes per side. Cool slightly and chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Make the dressing. While the chicken is cooking combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine. Divide the dressing between two large mason jars.
- Assemble the salads. Add half of the tomatoes to each jar, then add the chicken. Continue to layer in ingredients by adding the chickpeas, quinoa, avocado and blue cheese. Finish with the lettuce. Once the jar is full, seal with the lid and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Serve. When ready to serve, open the jar and pour the contents into a large plate or bowl. Top with almonds and pancetta (if desired).
I love making salads in a jar, and I've come up with all sorts of combinations, but I've never used quinoa before. This salad has a great combination of flavors. I will definitely have to make this one. Your photos are great.
Thanks Patti! I like the quinoa for a little extra protein in a salad.
dixya @food, pleasure, and health says
i pack lunch pretty regularly and this sounds like a good one to add to my list.
This salad not only looks delicious, but I love how pretty it looks in the jar! Such a great idea and fun way to eat healthy. Love it 😉
Veena Azmanov says
I love salads in a jar and I love to add some quinoa to boost it and make it more scrumptious. This looks perfect for me. Love the chick peas and avocado.
I love the idea of salads in a jar but haven't tried one yet. I do packed lunch for me and my husband everyday in a box but definitely have to give the mason jar a try. Doesn't it look so much more tempting with all layers visible from outside.love the combination of flavours you have used!
Thanks for sharing!
I never tried to make a salad in a jar! What do you think is the best time to eat it? Does it go bad really fast?
Tatiana - As long as you don't open it after you put it together it will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Jessica Pinney says
I *love* making my lunches in jars and this recipe looks particularly wonderful! Can't wait to give it a try this week.
I love everything about this salad and it would be great to take to work for lunch.