Snappy Salads – Taco Salad in a Jar
Salads in a Jar is probably another Pinterest favorite but it was actually a Huffington Post article that caught my fancy this week. The article was about colorful salads and fruits to make for a not so sad desk lunch. Couldn’tbe more timely as I was on a gluten-free/clean eating binge this week again after all the “junk” devoured over the past week and weekend.
My hurried clicks with my Iphone camera while I was making this salad didn’t come close to the vibrant colors in the original article, but it was a decent first attempt to inspire me to eat healthy at work and stop my binges in Singapore “dhaba” type eateries and food courts. I have to admit, this is by far the most convenient method to tote a salad to work, greens stay fresh, its healthy, compact and the dressing gets evenly mixed when its time to eat. All you need to do is turn the mason jar upside down and shake it a few times and you have a wholesome green colorful meal. And yes its snappy too!
After my smoothie obsession (that continues), salads may come a close second to slowly becoming an everyday habit. Both smoothies and salads use my favorite kitchen utensil…the versatile mason jar. Not that ubiquitous in Singapore, you can find mason jars at wholesale Chinese kitchen stores in Chinatown or at Japanese dollar stores (Daiso). I do miss the “Ball” mason jars I used to collect at Walmart and Amazon but these aren’t too bad. Of course there’s always the pasta sauce/pickle jars that can be reused so it’s not hard to get started. You can also make the dressing and the fresh salsa ahead of time and keep it handy to whip up other tasteful mason jar salads.
Couple of points to note when making salads in a jar:
- Use mason jars that have a wider mouth than those you use for smoothies. Helps to mix and eat out of the jar if necessary.
- Put the dressing in first and then add in other ingredients, Beans, harder veggies or fruits at the bottom and the softer ones on top. The salad leaves should be top most so they stay fresh.
- Experiment with different veggies, fruits, beans and dressing.
- Use homemade dressings as much as you can. Store bought ones not only have processed ingredients but are also calorie laden so nothing like blending some fresh dressing with fruits, veggies, olive oil or other on your own. I will share some dressing recipes frequently in this section as well so keep a look out.
- 1/2 cup boiled and drained black beans (soak black beans overnight in water and then cook it the next day in water over a stove or a pressure cooker)
- 1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper,or both
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions or regular sweet Vidalia onions
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice (I mixed the quinoa with some lemon juiceand cilantro beforehand)
- 1 small avocado, diced (toss with a little lime juice to prevent browning)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh Mexican salsa (recipe below)
- small handful chopped cilantro
- shredded or sliced lettuce or any leafy greens
For dressing: (can be made 1-2 days ahead)
- juice of 1 lemon or lime (or about 2 tbsp)
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Sea Salt to taste
Mix all the above with a whisk and set aside.
For fresh Mexican salsa: (in the Vitamix)– from Vitamix recipes. Can be made a day or even a week ahead)
- 2 cloves of peeled garlic
- 5 baby carrots
- 3 or 4 slices of fresh serrano peppers pending your desired heat level
- fresh cilantro ( 3 finger pinch)
Turn the Vitamix to variable speed 7 and drop the garlic, serrano peppers, cilantro, and carrots in through the hole in the lid while the machine is running. Next, add the following to the container and put the lid back on:
- 3 roma tomatoes (cutting in 1/2 or 1/4’s will make it easier for the blades to grab the tomatoes)
- 1/4 inch slice of sweet yellow onion (larger onion) or a 1/2 inch on a smaller union
- 1 thin slice of green bell pepper
- Season Salt (2 or 3 shakes)
- Pepper (2 or 3 shakes)
- Garlic Salt (4 or 5 shakes)
- Ground Cumin (2 or 3 shakes)
- Squirt of lime juice
Now, turn the machine on variable 1 or 2 range. The less ripe the harder the tomato and the higher the speed needed to chop), and then use the tamper to push everything down in to the blades! When you can no longer see or feel large chunks of food, then your salsa is ready to devour:)
Method for layering the salad:
Layer ingredients in jar in the order listed- Lemon cumin dressing, black beans, diced pepper, green onions, salsa, quinoa, avocado and end with the lettuce. Top with lid and refrigerate until ready to eat. Can be made 1-2 days in advance.
To eat – turn jar over to let dressing/salsa coat the salad ingredients. You can eat out of the jar or empty it on to a plate. Salad leaves stay fresh and dressing is all evenly coated. Perfection!