Last week, Mack and I took a great road trip down a portion of Old Route 66. We were able to combine a work-related visit to Sandia National Lab with an RV meet-up with Trae and Corie.
We took off in the early morning and stopped for lunch at one of the fabulous Texas Roadside Parks (as a Texan, I’ll admit to being a bit prejudiced, though I can honestly say that the Texas Department of Transportation truly provides the most magnificent roadside parks of any state I’ve visited).
I packed a cooler with my newest obsession: Jar Salads! What a brilliant invention! I’m a fool for Mason jars and have a jillion. We use them for iced tea, individual servings of soup, even (the small ones) for wine glasses (ok, sometimes the larger ones:)
Once I came across the idea of packing salads in Mason Jars, I couldn’t wait to build a whole party around my desire to serve a jar salad (I tend to put the cart before the horse on occasion). Anyhow, the jar salad is such a versatile idea, and really does keep the lettuce crisp and the salad fresh for several days.
I’ll give the recipes for the two jar salads that I’ve made so far, but you can really put anything that you love/have into the jar and make a great, fresh and healthy meal. The principle is the same for whatever goodies you include in your jar: Dressing on the bottom, followed by dense veggies that don’t get soggy easily (celery, onion, cucumbers, tomatoes). Then just layer your other ingredients, leaving lettuce to toward the top. Put the protein on top of the lettuce. I then put my goodies – raisins, pumpkin seeds, etc. on the very top.
When you get ready to eat, just shake it up and pour onto a plate. While, of course, it’s possible to eat from the jar, it’s just easier from a plate. Yummy…and such a smart way to eat healthily on the road.
Party Jar Salad
A few weeks ago, I came across the idea of Jar Salads (on Pinterest, of course!) and couldn’t wait to try it out. I invited my pals over for a Game Night, and thought that would be a perfect venue to try out the jars. I had been to the beach a few days earlier, and brought home several pounds of shrimp (right off the boat), so I decided to serve a Do-it-yourself shrimp cocktail bar and…of course, the reason for the fiesta…a jar salad! Since we were having the shrimp, I decided to not add a “meat” component to this jar salad. It was yummy, and everybody got a kick out of it. We had a couple left over, and they were great – fresh and crisp- the next day (it’s always good to have a leftover meal the day after a party).
Poppy seed dressing – about 2 Tablespoons
cucumber – seeded and cubed
tomatoes – diced
carrots – julienned
thinly sliced red onion
green olives – chopped
feta – crumbled
You can choose the size of the jar you want to use. For the Game Night first, I used the pint size jar. Perfect for a “side salad.” I had some cute turquoise jars and ordered some bamboo forks from Amazon and tied them around the top of the jar with twine. I found an inexpensive galvanized tub, filled it with ice, and planted my jars in the tub. A great, fun, and simple presentation which made the “do it yourself” party for 13 easy to manage.
***Another tip: Really pack your salad ingredients tightly into the jar. This keeps the ingredients from shifting (plus, you get a lot of really good yummies in your jar!).
For our roadside picnic, I took a different tactic. Since this would be the whole meal, I chose a larger jar (as I mentioned, I have a plethora of choices, colors, textures…I might need jar-therapy). Using a trick that I learned from my grandmother (when she made soup), I just kind of cleaned out the refrigerator. We were going to be gone for a week, and I hated for my produce to go to waste, so I got creative.
First, I marinated a chicken breast (plenty for the two of us) in a great marinade that I put together from a few different recipes I found on line:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T. honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 T dijon mustard
big pinch pepper
sprig of rosemary (the previous owners of our house were great gardeners and planted a beautiful raised bed veggie garden, and a beautiful rosemary plant in the front yard – it is now HUGE! so I use rosemary as much as possible, in anything I can – on another pony, I had a rosemary creme brule in Santa Fe – I’m gonna try my hand at one and I’ll let you know).
I put the chicken breast in a baggie (since there are just the 2 of us at home now, I buy chicken breasts in large, family size quantity and divide them into one and two-breast baggies). Then, I mixed up the marinade and poured it over the chicken. Refrigerated for 2 (or more) hours. Since Mack was at work (he usually “mans” the grill), I fired it up and did a pretty fair job of grilling the chicken. I let it cool before assembling the salad.
For this one, I started with some low-cal Catalina dressing (I am on the 62nd annual diet), then layered chopped celery, julienned carrots, cubed cucumbers and tomatoes. I then added a little chopped kale and lettuce, then thinly sliced red onion. I then added the diced chicken and topped it with some Craisins (love them!) and chopped walnuts.
It was just delicious. Fresh as could be after 6 hours in the cooler, and such a better choice than a fast food burger.
I am just intrigued with this little fun technique. With just two of us in the house, I find that I waste a lot of fresh produce. I think that this will be a key to saving money – along with time and calories.