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Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go Paperback – May 20, 2014
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"This cookbook is all about feeding you idea after idea, and then showing you just how to execute each on. Plus, salads layered in jars just look pretty! Who wouldn't want to eat these beautiful salads?!" —TheKitchn.com
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1) Cut back on the oil, especially if (like me) you are watching your weight or limiting fat intake. The recipes are paired with homemade vinaigrettes which contain oil. Fine, I love oil, but the quantities can be reduced without making a big difference in the tastiness of the salads. Recipes calling for 3 T of oil get cut back to 1 T. I usually just use equal parts oil and whatever vinegar or juice (lemon, lime, etc.) is recommend. Also, when the recipe calls for toasting pine nuts in oil, I use a spray of olive oil in the skillet instead of the tablespoon called for in the recipe.
2) Keep a supply of salad greens on hand. I use all kinds--whatever looks good at the store (kale, red leaf lettuce, spring mix, spinach, baby arugula). After I get the dressing and key ingredients in, I fill the jar all the way up with greens. Also, many of my favorite recipes call for cherry tomatoes so I routinely buy a large container of them (at least until my tomato plants start producing).
3) Always make the quart size. Some of the recipes specify the pint size but that's not enough room for the addition of extra greens which add flavor, fiber, and vitamins and make it feel more like a full meal (which it is for me--I have one for lunch most work days).
4) Always prepare TWO quart size jars of the same recipe. They keep fine in the fridge for several days. The recipes vary in how many servings they make. I just estimate what I need for two quart jars. Doesn't have to be exact! It's a big time-saver for me to do two of them since prep time is about the same whether I'm making one or two.
5) Buy the Cuppow Canning Jar Lunchbox Adaptor (you can order on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00GMLOD90) to put some ingredients into that you want to keep separate. The author suggests buying an insert of this type but also provides directions for a parchment paper work-around. I prefer the ease of the reusable inserts and bought two since I always make two jars at a time. I've found that cucumbers lose their crispness if added into the jar so like to keep them separate. I also use it for nuts (pistachios, pine nuts, etc) so they stay crisp, and for feta cheese so that it stays firm. Once I stuff the greens into the top of the jar, I insert the Cuppow and add whatever needs to be kept separate and screw the lid on top of that. Works perfectly.
6) Use a really big bowl or preferably a plate. Once everything is packed in the jar in layers, you'll want to turn the jar upside down and empty it all at once onto a plate so you the dressing ends up on top (the dressing is always put into the bottom of the jar) and then mix ingredients into the dressing . For work, I've been using Dixie platters (you can probably find at your local grocery or buy on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00ISLTM1G). They are big, oval shaped, and leak-proof. The salads are often juicy, both from the dressing and from other ingredients. At home I just use a dinner plate.
7) Finally, I encourage you to springboard off this delightful book (love the gorgeous pictures in the book, too!) and make up your OWN recipes. Once I got the idea, it was easy to start incorporating ingredients from my own little garden into the recipes and taking advantage of seasonal selections at the store. I also started experimenting with the vinaigrette--bought some interesting vinegar selections to try, like orange-honey balsamic vinegar, and also some different oils like garlic-infused oil, hazelnut oil, peanut oil, etc.
In summary, I am sooo glad I purchased the book. I was REALLY tired of frozen meals or boring sandwiches and soups for lunch. These beautiful, tasty salads make me feel like I'm having lunch at a nice restaurant instead of at my desk! Highly recommended!
This book really shines for the same reasons as the blog: it combines Julia's love of food and fresh ingredients with creative recipe ideas and stunning photography. Even if (like me), you're not that skilled in the kitchen, you're sure to find ways to make tasty and original lunches with these ideas. And the book is a great conversation piece; I keep mine on my coffee table and, more than a few times, a visiting friend's curiosity has been piqued by the concept of mason jar salads (and the very attractive cover!). Finally, if you're a busy person (and let's face it, who isn't these days?), nothing is more valuable than time - and this book has some great ideas on making meals not only more enjoyable but more efficient.
Highly recommend this book!