Sometimes great inspiration comes from the simplest thing. Take an ordinary canning jar, for instance. I usually think of jelly and jam or canned peaches. I just hadn’t really thought of the jars as great containers for transporting lunch. The reusable jar for make-and-take salads, soups and snacks makes sense when it comes to living green. The glass jar is the healthiest way to heat foods in a microwave while providing a creative window for other on-the-go entrees.
The folks who make Mason jars have a wonderful little book that is full of ideas for make-and-take meals. The emphasis is on salads, of course, where the dressing is put in the bottom of the jar first, followed by salad toppers, fillers and finally the base of greens. The jar is carried upright with lid intact, then when poured into a bowl or onto a plate, the dressing comes out on top.
My thoughts went wild about salads as I browsed through the book. The layered lunch is also a great way to exercise portion control for those who are portion-challenged. What you see is what you get, along with layers of flavor, of course.
I started thinking bigger about the possibilities of larger jars for picnic portions of salads and sides.
What a boost to your working lunch week to have five pints of lunch stowed in your fridge for quick morning getaways — not to mention the practical money-saving benefit. Taking some time over the weekend to plan could really pay off. Greek salad on Mondays, taco salad on Tuesdays — your choice. With this idea-packed book, there are more than 50 inspirations that are sure to make you the envy of your co-workers.
Very little equipment is needed to make the salads. The author suggests wide-mouth jars for ease in assembly. If using the narrow-neck jars, a canning funnel helps situate the ingredients in the jar. A plastic bowl can be packed in a bag or tote with a napkin to cushion the jar. Refrigerate the bowl, jar and even the fork for a cool treat in the middle of the day.
I would buy the book to simply have the dressing recipes on hand, including Blueberry Vinaigrette, Lemon Vinaigrette and Citrus-Soy Vinaigrette.
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“Mason Jar Salads and More” by Julia Mirabella, Ulysses Press ($16.95)