11 July 2015

Weekend Cooking: Mason Jar Salads by Julia Mirabella

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Mason Jar Salads by Julia MirabellaOne of my favorite ways to celebrate summer is to indulge in big, beautiful salads made from veggies I've brought home from the farmers market. We eat salads all year round, but field-fresh produce bursts with color and flavor.

When I saw the cover to Julia Mirabella's Mason Jar Salads, I knew I had to have a copy and then share the book with all of you. Aren't those layered salads just gorgeous?

But more than looks, these salads are designed to stay fresh for a few days and be safely transported to work or school. Mirabella may have answered one of my long-time food frustrations: what to do when you have to pack your lunch.

The origins of the book: Mirabella got the idea of experimenting with mason jar salads, lunches, and snacks because she wanted nutritious, packable meals that wouldn't take a long time to put together. The 50 recipes in Mason Jar Salads meet all three criteria: they use fresh ingredients, they are prepacked for transport, and they can be made ahead in surprisingly little time over the weekend.

Why you need the book: Okay, you're saying: I can throw a salad in a jar and I don't need pretty, so why should I buy the cookbook? Good thoughts. But here are the answers:
  • The salads and meals in this book will stay fresh and crisp for up to 5 days, meaning you prep on Sunday and grab and go the rest of the week.
  • The salads are layered in a very particular way to maintain freshness, and Mirabella gives you lots of advice so you can create your own mason jar salads.
  • Mirabella shares a number of tricks and hints, based on her own experiences, to make her recipes a success (one is to pack the salads tightly to reduce the amount of air in the jar).
copyright Julia MirabellaThings to know about mason jars: The use of mason jars is more than just a gimmick. Sure the assembled meals are beautiful to look at, but Mirabella talks about why she uses jars instead of other containers. For example:
  • Mason jars seal really well, this means fresher meals and leak-free transport.
  • Mason jars come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they're really inexpensive.
  • Mason jars are made of glass--no nasty plastic chemicals, no staining, and easy cleanup.
One crucial fact: Mirabella does not intend for you to eat out of the jar. This is really important to understand. If you tried to eat out of the well-packed jars, you'd likely just end up with a mess. She recommends keeping a bowl and eating utensils at your place of work, so you don't have to carry them with you every day. Her salads and other meals are built to be tipped into a bowl or plate and mixed together.

What are the recipes like? The recipes for the salads use fresh ingredients and homemade dressings. Prep depends on what's in your meal; for example, a grain-based salad obviously requires that you do some cooking before assembly. But seriously, there is very little work to do for each dish. And I love that the salad and smoothie recipes make just one serving. Mirabella includes some dips, spreads, snacks, and heartier dishes (pasta, soup), and those recipes serve anywhere from three to six.

copyright Julia MirabellaBottom line: You'll love Mason Jar Salads for more than just the wonderful recipes. Julia Mirabella gives you the information you need to start creating your own mason jar lunches. I know my husband and I will be using this cookbook a lot. Buy this one or pick it up at the library.

One thing I have to point out is that some of the recipes are a bit of cheat. Not the recipes themselves, which all look good, but the mason jar aspect. I probably didn't need a book to tell me I could put egg salad in a small jar, but I love the idea of packing hummus and veggies together in one container (see the photo at left).

Final notes: The photos were scanned from the book and all rights and copyrights remain with Julia Mirabella. (Click on the images to see them full size.) I'm not sharing a recipe because success depends on reading the introductory material and packing the jars properly. Instead, I'll leave you with the pretty pictures.

Published by Ulysses Press, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781612432892
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 7/11/15, 7:05 AM  

Very pretty pictures. I'm glad you posted about this book, I have been intrigued but didn't do the research & made assumptions. Such as, how could this salad not get soggy and how on earth will I eat this salad ?
I do keep bowls at work so that's no problem. Ok, going to try one and see how it goes!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 7/11/15, 7:36 AM  

These are gorgeous! I'm glad to hear you don't actually eat out of the jar...that's what I was thinking at first and I thought that didn't sound too appetizing or easy to do!

Lauren Capuano 7/11/15, 8:01 AM  

These are gorgeous! I'm always looking for new ways to pack lunch and this seems perfect. Glad you clarified about not eating out of the jar, because I prob would have tried that and ended up with salad all over me :)

bermudaonion 7/11/15, 8:16 AM  

One of our local restaurants features a mason jar salad and it is delicious! I NEED this cookbook!!

rhapsodyinbooks 7/11/15, 8:32 AM  

What a great idea! I think I need this book too!

Jackie Mc Guinness 7/11/15, 8:52 AM  

Thanks for this. I wondered what the purpose was of using mason jars for salads. Didn't realize they would keep much better.

Tina's Blog 7/11/15, 8:58 AM  

I love how colorful these salads look! I've been meaning to try out making some mason jar salads. I'm going to have to look into this book.

Trish 7/11/15, 9:25 AM  

Very pretty pictures indeed!! My library doesn't have a copy *sob* but I might have to jump the gun and just buy this one. I've already shared your link with a few friends on Twitter this morning! I REALLY need to get into the habit of packing a lunch every day and this would be the perfect pack of nutrition I need. goodness knows I have a TON of mason jars of all sizes!

And yes--great idea to pack veggies and hummus together.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 7/11/15, 9:56 AM  

Yes, a lovely way to transport and easily prepare salads for the week. And the jar looks so tidy, too!


Kay 7/11/15, 10:07 AM  

Those salads look gorgeous and I bet they taste just as good. This is actually something that I could manage, I think. And even though I don't work outside the house, I could still prepare them and eat them through the week for my lunch or send some with my husband to keep at work. I'm going to see if I can find a copy.

Katherine P 7/11/15, 10:39 AM  

I'm intrigued by this. While I'm a SAHM I'm always struggling to find something for lunch that's healthy but tasty. I like that I can do the prep a few days ahead of time. I'll definitely have to look for this. Thanks for sharing!

Daryl 7/11/15, 12:50 PM  

looks delish BUT glass is also very heavy and breakable ... as a salad lover i would want to add some dressing which i guess would need to be 'on the side' so the salad doesn't wilt

0a0077a2-2804-11e5-98ea-372df23fe0eb 7/11/15, 3:35 PM  

These looks so interesting!

Teddyree 7/12/15, 5:13 AM  

I want this book. I love Mason jars, they are hard to get here in Australia and quite expensive but the wide mouth jars are so worth it. I've bought cheaper brands but they don't seal as well as the mason and the lids corrode. I waste salad because if it's not used in the first couple of days it goes limp and bleh so I'd probably save money making up a few days worth and they look so pretty you just want to eat it :)

Molly Totoro 7/12/15, 1:49 PM  

I have had an interest in Mason Jar salads since I first saw them on Pinterest. The cover of this book is indeed beautiful and the recipes sound wonderful as well.

I definitely plan to pick up a copy for myself!

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