When the days are longer, and the nights are warmer many people like to head outdoors in search of fresh air, sunlight, and cool breezes. Cooking meals can become straightforward when you consider an outdoor picnic. Cleanup is easy and menu choices unlimited. An ideal luncheon item is the salad-in-a-jar, a menu item which takes minutes to put together. Even the children can help!

Mason jars are the perfect re-useable, environmentally friendly container. Fill them up and wrap them in the picnic blanket for safe-keeping, and away you go. Whether you are traveling by car, foot, or public transportation, Mason jars are light and portable carrying receptacles for your favourite ingredients. Salads offer the benefit of a complete meal without the mess of cooking over a fire or lugging a barbecue along to the beach.

By using a mason jar to pack your meal you can avoid issues such as ingredients causing other ingredients to sour, sogginess, and more. The basic method to make a mason jar salad is to use the dressing first on the bottom of the jar, then layer ingredients inside, greens on top. When you arrive at your destination, shake and serve! Note that it is wise to start with the least absorbant and heaviest ingredients.

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started.

Ranch Chicken Salad
This recipe will make two one-liter jar servings
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
seasoning to taste
6 ounces cooked pasta shells or other small shape
6 ounces chicken, cooked and cut into pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
2 cups fresh spinach or mixed salad

Using a medium bowl mix the sour cream, parsley, lemon juice, mayonnaise, chives, dill, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, and pepper. Next add the pasta and split this mix between two jars.

Now add the chicken on top to both jars. Follow this with the red pepper and lettuce last. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Non-Meat Taco Salad
This recipe will make four servings, portion into one large or several small jars.

For the Dressing
1/4 cup (60 mL) plain, low-fat Greek yogourt
1/4 cup (60 mL) vegan mayonnaise or reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup (60 mL) skim milk or milk alternative
Zest from 1 lime
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) honey
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cumin
Pinch of salt
Pinch of finely chopped coriander (optional)

Mix together above ingredients, Set half aside, refrigerate.

For the Salad
1 cup (250 mL) walnut halves
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
3/4 tsp (4 mL) chilli powder
1 tsp (5 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) soy sauce
1 cup (250 mL) black beans
1 cup (250 mL) fresh corn
1 avocado, diced
2 cups (500 mL) halved cherry tomatoes
4 cups (1 L) mixed salad

Walnut meat is easy to make. Put the walnuts into a food processor and use the pulse setting. When they’ve been broken up into large chunks, you can add soy sauce, cumin, olive oil, and chili powder to the food processor and pulse once more until the walnut pieces are small but chunky. The mixture should resemble ground beef.
Put dressing into Mason jars. Layer the rest into jars in the following order:
Black beans, corn, avocado, tomato, walnut meat, salad.

28th May 2015

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