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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).
- 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.
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.
Bottom 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
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)