With New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier still (hopefully) fresh in everyone’s mind, this seems like a good time to provide a bit of helpful information toward that effort.
Mason jar salads are a growing trend for a healthy and quick lunch. Salads packaged in Mason jars are portable, easily prepared in advance, and offer a wide variety of recipes. Luke Saunders is the founder of Farmer’s Fridge, a new healthy salad vending kiosk concept that I first reported on in December 2013.
With the new year only five days old, Luke has graciously shared five helpful tips on making a Mediterranean Mason jar salad that will stay fresh and crisp in the office fridge until lunch time to help health-conscious readers start 2015 on the right foot. Try this the next time you’re looking for an easy-to-transport meal that you can have fun making and most importantly, that will allow you to enjoy a filling lunch without violating your resolution to make wiser eating choices this year.
Luke’s 5 steps to making the perfect Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad (recipe follows below):
- Prep the Dressing Early: Start salad construction by combining the dressing ingredients the night before to allow all the flavors to marinate and meld together. To make the Red Wine Vinaigrette for the Mediterranean Salad, whisk together red wine vinegar, water, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, oregano and basil in a medium-sized bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil.
- Choose Your Greens: Instead of the standard romaine or iceberg lettuce, swap out the greens with something new. Experiment with varieties like arugula, kale and spinach. Each type of leafy green offers different health benefits ranging from improving immune defenses, lowering cholesterol, strengthening bones, combatting heart disease and promoting healthy vision.
- Start the Jar with Hearty Veggies: By reverse layering salad ingredients within the jars, the salad will be right side up and ready to eat when the jar is flipped. Base layers of Mason jar salads should include the heartier vegetables that can take the weight of the other ingredients – when the salad is flipped onto a plate, the lettuce will be on the bottom and other vegetables will be on top. To start the Mediterranean Salad, layer the quartered artichokes followed by grape tomatoes, English cucumbers, cannellini beans, parmesan and Kalamata olives.
- Layer it Up: After the heavy ingredients, pack the rest of the Mason jar with greens and garnishes such as croutons, berries, protein or nuts. For the Mediterranean Salad, top the ingredients with mixed greens and pine nuts. To finish, store separate 2 oz. container of dressing on top of the salad, screw on the jar’s lid and the salad is ready to go.
- Know How to Store the Salad: To prevent the salad from getting soggy, pack everything into the jar as tightly as possible to keep ingredients from moving around. Leaving the greens for last creates a moisture barrier making the salad able to stay in the fridge for a few days. Salads can be enjoyed on a plate or in a bowl, or ingredients can be shaken up and the salad can be eaten directly from the jar.
FARMER’S FRIDGE MEDITERRANEAN SALAD RECIPE
- Red Wine Vinegar – ½ cup
- Water – 6 Tbsp.
- Olive Oil – 2 Tbsp.
- Honey – 2 tsp.
- Dijon Mustard – 1 tsp.
- Salt – ½ tsp.
- Black Pepper – ¼ tsp.
- Oregano – 1 tsp.
- Basil – ½ tsp.
- Artichokes (canned) – 4 quarters
- Grape Tomatoes (sliced in half) – 2 each
- English Cucumbers (quartered and thinly sliced) – ¼ cup
- Cannellini Beans (canned) – ¼ cup
- Parmesan Cheese (grated) – 1 Tbsp.
- Kalamata Olives (sliced) – 2 Tbsp.
- Mixed Greens – 1.5 cups
- Pine Nuts (roasted) – 1 Tbsp.
Start by layering the quartered artichokes followed by grape tomatoes, English cucumbers, cannellini beans parmesan, Kalamata olives, mixed greens and pine nuts. To make the dressing, whisk together the red wine vinegar, water, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, oregano and basil in a medium size bowl. While you are still whisking slowly pour in the olive oil. Dressing can be stored in a 2 ounce portion cup on top of the salad.
ABOUT FARMER’S FRIDGE
Farmer’s Fridge, a new healthy vending machine concept, delivers delicious gourmet salads and snacks to customers via automated kiosks around the Chicagoland area. The idea to provide nutritious meals came from Founder Luke Saunders’ realization that health-conscious people were struggling to find nutritious meals and snacks that were easily accessible. Building on that belief, Saunders drew on his background in manufacturing to create an automated kiosk that could dispense healthy food options. Farmer’s Fridge offers people healthy, nutritious foods that are delicious and satisfying in a state-of-the art, innovative automated kiosk. The salads and snacks are made from fresh ingredients available from local produce vendors. Farmer’s Fridge salads and snacks are handcrafted each morning in a local Chicago kitchen and are stocked daily by 10 a.m. The company also provides catering to businesses in downtown Chicago. For more information, please visit www.farmersfridge.com.