Monday, January 14, 2013

Mason Jar Salads = Yum In My Tum!

If you're on Pinterest at all, there's no doubt that you've read all about the latest salad craze. Mason jar salads! You all know how much I love to prep my food on Sunday and I've been wanting to give these a try since before the New Year. With my January accountability group in full swing, I thought this would be a perfect time to share this idea with all of them and you as well!

So, salads in a jar.  Trust me when I say that I was skeptical at first.  Wouldn't everything get soggy? Would it be a waste of my precious Sunday prep time? Well, I just enjoyed my first salad for lunch and it was delicious. A wonderful meld of flavors and colors to tempt my palate? Yes please!! I have a full and happy belly as I sit here and type. So, skeptics, a challenge for you! Give this a try and see how it goes for you. 

Before I got started, I sat down and read over some posts by a couple foodie bloggers, The Yummy Life and Healthy.Happy.Life  Both of these ladies had some wonderful ideas. The best part about these is that there are no rules or recipes to follow.  Creativity definitely took over and I had a lot of fun prepping these.  I used the items I had in my pantry and to cut down prep time, I used the veggies I was already planning to use in my other prep recipes. The result was 6 beautiful jars, 2 each of a different blend of nuts, beans, vegetables and pasta or quinoa. Yum!

Here is a pic of my salad station.  During yesterday's prep, as I typically do, I started with all of my fruits and veggies and set those aside for the recipes I had on my list. This also made the salad prep EASY! In this pic, you'll see chickpeas, black beans, corn, whole wheat penne pasta, spicy quinoa, cucumbers, green onions, lots of red and green peppers, celery, toasted pine nuts, ground chia seeds and a blend of spinach and arugula all to fit into these 6 lovely jars. 

For the dressing, I used a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, ground chia seeds, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.   (*Note: You can also use whole chia seeds and they will absorb up some of the dressing to prevent sogginess. I think next time I'll use whole on the salads that I know are going to be eaten later in the week)

And now for the layering! 

From Kathy at Healthy.Happy.Life: 

1) BOTTOM - dressing/liquid
2) Heavy ingredients that hold up well when submerged in dressing - beans, cucumbers, radishes, onion..
3) Heavy items that you may not want directly touching the dressing when stored.
4) Leafy greens/light ingredients that take up a lot of space - spinach, kale, chard, arugula..
5) A small amount of heavy accent items - nuts, seeds, dried fruit, croutons, accent spices
6) TOP - colorful ingredients to perk up your taste buds when you pop open the jar - fruit, edible flowers, herbs...

Grains are also a good add in.  I used spicy quinoa and whole wheat penne pasta in my jars.

Jar 1: We'll call this my fiesta version!  
I started with my dressing mixture and then added my spicy quinoa (recipe to come later on today!) to the bottom of the jar.  Then I layered beans, corn, a few unsliced tomatoes (don't slice them before hand), green onions, a huge pile of my greens and a few toasted pine nuts. 

Jars 2 and 3 are identical except that 2 of them have the penne and 2 have the quinoa.  My husband is still learning to love quinoa, so I made up the pasta especially for him.  
In these jars I mixed up my dressing, and added a generous handful of chickpeas to the jar.  I then added a nice pile of cucumbers, green onions, peppers, celery and stuffed in the greens. Topped off with quinoa and toasted pine nuts in one jar and penne and pine nuts in the other.

Absolutely DELICIOUS! I highly recommend you give these easy salads a try on your next prep day. It was incredibly simple to assemble these and it was even simpler to grab one out of the fridge for my lunch today. Isn't it pretty? What would you put in your mason jar salad?

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