We use layers to stay warm in the winter, but how many people use layers to bring their lunch to work?
In her new cookbook, “Mason Jar Salads,” attorney Julia Mirabella shows readers how to build salads in a jar, starting with the dressing and crunchy veggies on the bottom, then layering on legumes and grains, pasta and herbs, adding the lettuce, cheese and nuts on top.
“The less air between layers, the longer your salad will stay fresh,” Mirabella writes. “By ending with the greens on top, you’ll create a moisture barrier that prevents the entire salad from becoming soggy.”
Mirabella came up with the layering technique after starting her first job as an attorney. She had no time to make her lunch and quickly grew tired of eating out.
By packing the jars tightly and then sealing them with the lid, she found she was able to make the salads several days ahead of time, then just grab one each morning from the fridge.
“By spending a little time on the weekend making Mason jar meals for the coming week, I’ve solved many of the difficulties of bringing my lunch to work,” she said. “Being able to make the salads ahead of time means that you’re more likely to eat the produce you buy.”
If your salad does not have enough crunchy ingredients to put on the bottom, she advises making a separate cup for the dressing at the top of the jar with a piece of parchment paper.
Once you get to work, all you need to do is empty the jar into a bowl, toss with the dressing, and enjoy.
The cookbook includes recipes for vinaigrettes as well, along with breakfast smoothies and oatmeal, pasta dishes and soups, risottos and snacks like spicy hummus with vegetables.
Here is a recipe from “Mason Jar Salads”:
“While it may seem like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed — an awesome, nutrition-packed seed,” the author writes. “Quinoa is a great source of protein, fiber, and iron, and its fluffy texture makes it a perfect addition to salads.”
Spinach, Radish, and Quinoa salad
Makes 1 serving
¼ cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons Blueberry Vinaigrette (below)
1⁄3 cup cucumber chunks
1⁄3 cup diced vine-ripened tomatoes
1⁄3 cup fresh peas (or substitute sugar snap peas)
½ cup thinly sliced radishes
2 cups spinach leaves
1 quart-size Mason jar
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running water. Place in a small saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Let the quinoa cool before adding it to the salad.
Layer the ingredients in the Mason jar, starting with the vinaigrette dressing and continuing with the cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, and radishes. Add the cooled quinoa and finish with the spinach greens. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes 1 to 2 servings
3 tablespoons fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon honey
— Pinch of salt
— Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
Place the blueberries, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil until it is the right consistency.