Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab & Go
Author: Julia Mirabella | Publisher: Ulysses Press 2014 143 pages
This little book provides a nice way to get started with the newest use for Mason jars taking the Internet by storm. The idea is to prepare several healthy meals at once and store them in a recyclable and chemical-free (non-plastic) container. The flood of Internet recipes using the iconic container, usually associated with the art of canning or preserving, has been impressive – and in the case of this book, praise is warranted.
The author provides basic information about the process of packing salads and other meals in canning jars. While the weight and fragility of glass jars might be a concern, they are attractive and come in sizes and shapes that are convenient to fill, carry, and store. The attributes of a spill-proof seal and the ease of thorough cleaning make for two more reasons to buy a case of 12 jars – which were available at my local hardware store for around $10.00, a nice deal!
Mason Jar Salads and More has plenty of photos to inspire. The recipes are not at all fussy. They make use of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains, and there are numerous meatless options. The author clearly likes food and has a diverse diet, which is reflected in her array of flavorful recipes. Her recipes are also well-seasoned, something that is sometimes lacking in salads.
The author includes some good tips specific to Mason jar salads. Most of her salads place the dressing at the bottom under an ingredient that isn’t likely to wilt, but she suggests fashioning a shallow cup from parchment paper to suspend under the cap if an ingredient, like salad dressing, needs be segregated until serving time. For warm weather and picnics, packing hummus into a pint jar and standing carrot and celery sticks inside for transport is convenient and efficient.
I enjoyed par-boiling steel-cut oats in bulk, dividing the soupy mixture among five 1-pint jars, and setting them aside to plump up overnight. Over the next week I reheated the perfectly cooked oats in the jars and ate them with the suggested blueberries and almonds – delicious. It would be easy to grab one of the jars from the refrigerator on the way out the door to be heated later at the office, too.
The jar I made of curried butternut squash salad with lentils was delicious for my lunch and also served as a side dish for my husband and me with our dinner later in the week.
The Cobb Salad was the classic combination of ingredients, united with a simple French vinaigrette dressing. It was a completely satisfying meal, restaurant-quality without the expense.
There are salads, yes, but also soups, smoothies, sandwiches, and snacks to entice. You’ll eat well and could resist impulsive purchases of processed foods – a healthy and economic payoff.
First published June 2015