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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Novel Ways to Lunch, a "Syliva Plath Salad?"

From The Radishmagazine.com, see below: More musings and green tips to follow. Catch the story of Stonehenge on pbs.org. Hope everyone had a blessed Solstice Salad in a jar: One container. A mix of veggies. A transformed lunch. Comment on this article Sarah J. Gardner, sjgardner@qconline.com Printed and digital copies of this image are available for purchase. Digital delivery within minutes. Click here for details. Paul Colletti/pcolletti@qconline.com A Mason jar salad consisting of dressing, kidney beans, carrots, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, ribbons of summer squash, mixed greens and walnuts. More photos from this shoot I have a confession to make. There are times — more often than I'd rather admit — when I have thrown a few carrot shavings and some dressing over a bowl of lettuce and called it a salad. I'm not proud of it. I certainly recognize this is generally what comes in a bag at the supermarket labeled "Salad Starter" (as opposed to "Complete Meal"). It's just sometimes when worn out from a day at work or pressed for time or just plain short on items in the fridge, this sort of rushed affair works. In a pinch. Sort of. Anyway, it's not like I'm pretending a plain bowl of lettuce constitutes a salad. That's what the carrot is for. The irony, of course, is that if you stopped me on the street and asked for salad ideas, I could easily run through a list of any number of delicious combinations. There's the salad the starts with watercress and gets topped with shredded raw beet, walnut pieces and a vinaigrette. Or the spinach salad with peas and Parmesan cheese tossed with pesto and salt. Or the chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, olives, bell pepper, raw onion and parsley that gets dressed with hummus cut with lemon juice. All of which is to say I like a good salad, it's just sometimes a question of taking the time to put that salad together. Enter the Mason jar salad, which isn't a salad recipe so much as a method for transporting salads on the go — but, as I discovered, it's a method that also can lead to more creative meals. The idea is simple enough: You pack a salad in a jar. Any jar will do, as long as it's clean and the lid has a good seal (on days when I bike to work, I forgo glass to use a plastic quart container with a screw-on lid). Begin by putting the dressing in the bottom. This may seem odd, since we usually pour dressing over a salad once it's assembled. But greens left to sit in dressing quickly go limp. As an added bonus, by putting your dressing on bottom, you can also see exactly how much you are using, avoiding the extra calories that come with an overdressed salad. After that, the sky is the limit. You can add anything else you'd like on a salad to fill the jar. I usually layer my other sturdier salad ingredients on the bottom as well — things like carrots, beans, bell pepper and hard-boiled eggs — to put a little more distance between the delicate lettuces and the dressing. I pack in my leafy greens last. In many ways, it's useful to think of this as a salad you are assembling upside down, with the toppings on bottom. When you're done, attach the lid and off you go! When lunch rolls around, give the jar a couple shakes to start mixing the salad, then pour it all into a bowl. (I keep a big blue bowl at my desk for exactly this purpose, though you can always pack one with you on a picnic.) In theory, you could get by with just a fork and eat the salad straight from the jar, but I've found the slight bottleneck in some jars to be a hindrance. Pouring the salad into a bowl makes for easier eating, and it also ensures that even tightly packed salads get mixed and dressed well. You can give the salad a toss with your fork before digging in. As it turns out, being able to see your salad in layers sparks some serious salad creativity. As I fell into the habit of eating Mason jar salads, I found myself rummaging through my kitchen more often for toppings that might add another pleasing color to the jar or a great change of texture. It wasn't long before I started better stocking my fridge with salad ingredients. After all, I did not want to be the girl who brought a quart of lettuce into the office and called it lunch, much less the one eating it. But pea shoots, butter beans, bell peppers, scallions, pickled beats, lettuce, pecans and dried fruit? Sign me up! As any dietitian will tell you, the more variety you get in your diet, the better it is for you nutritionally. Packing a salad in a jar gives you an easy visual reminder to do exactly that and results in some seriously enjoyable eats. Sarah J. Gardner is the editor of Radish. Are you a fan of Mason jar salads? Share a photo of your salad and a list of its ingredients at facebook.com/RadishMagazine. What to put in your jar? Looking for some salad inspiration? Here are some items worth trying in your Mason jar salad. Protein: Canned beans (kidney, garbonzo, black beans, etc.) Diced hard-boiled egg Crumbled bacon Nuts (walnuts, pecans, almond slivers) Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) Vegatables: Bell pepper Carrots Sugar snap peas or snowpeas Strips of summer squash or zucchini Beets (pickled or shredded raw) Radishes Cucumber Olives Tomato Diced onion or scallions Edible flowers (violets, edible pansies) Herbs (parsley, tarragon, dill) Fruits: Fresh berries (strawberry, blueberry) Dried fruits (cranberries, raisins) Apple slices tossed in lemon juice Pickled watermelon rind

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