The beauty of Mason jar salads is they’re fast, fabulous and you can prepare them ahead of time. I came across the concept a few months ago while watching a morning show on tv and thought ‘What a brilliant idea!’ Mix and match with your favourite ingredients for a healthy meal.
I’ve always been notorious for forgetting to pack my own lunch, then snacking throughout the day. These convenient on-the-go meals also help to reduce the panic that comes with clock watching when preparing breakfasts and packing lunches on weekdays before work, school or even before sporting activities on the weekend. Pre-preparation is the key to portable and convenient lunches, packed full of goodness. The concept is simple and it’s all about layering ingredients.
Dressings should be stored in a separate container, or placed in the jar first, so it remains on the bottom of the jar. Above that, you can mix and match with your favourite ingredients. These may include beans, grains, vegetables and leafy greens on top. Other ingredients I love to use are pasta, tuna, egg, chickpeas or beans, carrots, celery, avocado, tomatoes, corn, peas, lettuce, broccoli, mushrooms and spinach. You can also use grilled vegetables like eggplant, cauliflower, zucchini and capsicum. The options are interchangeable and only limited by your imagination and tastebuds.
Rinse the quinoa in water, then in a saucepan add a splash of oil, the quinoa with chopped shallots and garlic. Fry for a few seconds, then top with water, or vegetable stock. In the same way you would make rice, bring to the boil, then simmer until the water is reduced and the quinoa is fluffy and light. Once cooked, place aside and leave to cool.
For the dressing, combine a splash of red wine vinegar, the chopped red onions and a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil. Mix well with the quinoa and pour into the Mason jar(s). You can prepare several jars at the same time and store in the fridge to use throughout the week.
Julienne or slice your carrot, into small batons. Dice the cucumbers and capsicum and chop the tomatoes and herbs. Peel and devein the prawns. Slice the lettuce at the base so leaves easily fall apart, then rinse and set aside.
Now the layering can begin. Add the carrot, cucumbers, capsicum, tomatoes, dill, parsley and carrot. Above this, add the lettuce and fresh prawns. Dress the salad with seasalt, pepper and lemon juice.
Tips from the author
Store in the fridge and when you’re ready, tip over a plate, so the quinoa and dressing fall over the top of the salad. If you prefer to eat straight from the jar, don’t fill it to the top, so you can just grab a fork, give the jar a good shake and enjoy your colourful creation!
You might like to also try this Crisp romaine lettuce in a jar.