Review: Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella

Before we moved I had a full time job at Joshua Tree National Park, and was either eating quickly made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or eating out on my lunch break. I guess I was just too lazy to make an actual lunch for the day and would just wing it when the time came. So I was interested in reviewing a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella in the hopes of adding some homemade healthy lunches to the mix. I'm not really a salad person, it's just one of those things that never fills me up. I was happy to see that not all of the recipes in here were salads. There are pasta, oatmeal, and quinoa dishes as well.

The first recipe I tried was the guacamole salad. The process was rather easy and I really liked the fact that you make the vinaigrette yourself. In fact, in the back of the book there's a whole bunch of vinaigrette recipes that you will be using for various mason jar dishes. I made this a day in advance and I will be honest, the avocado was starting to brown, so I wouldn't let it sit in the refrigerator longer than a day. However, the flavors were really good. It did in fact taste like a guacamole with lettuce and chicken (for the Mr). The only bad thing about this was that the dressing was very oily. Maybe we are just not homemade vinaigrette people but it seemed like everything was coated in a layer of olive oil. However, the flavors were there and in the end we thought this was a nice salad.

The second recipe I tried was the curried butternut squash over lentils. This one was delicious. There's a little bit more prep work to this because you have to cut and roast the squash but it's well worth it. With the added crunchiness of the pecans, the lime and cilantro sprinkled over top, and the creamy butternut squash... YUM! We had this as a main dish and I also put some in pint jars to pull out later for a side dish to dinners.

*picture taken from book*
This was a whoopsie on my part. I thought I had taken a photo of this one and apparently I didn't. This was another recipe where I made a big batch, ate it for dinner and then put the leftovers in the jars for lunches and side dishes later on. This was a tasty tortellini with basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella. There's a recipe for pesto but I bought store bought stuff because basil is not cheap here. I'm talking about those small herbs packets that you see in the produce section that still have their roots but are packaged into these small plastic containers for like $4. Yeah, I wasn't about to buy a bunch of them to make the 4 cups of basil I'd have needed for the pesto. Especially when I could buy pre-made pesto for a fraction of the price of purchasing the basil alone. In the end I don't think it really mattered because this was a delicious pasta. Definitely one that I will be making again.

Apparently mason jar food is somewhat of a craze right now... or was. I don't know, I don't keep up with these things. However, I could see why they would be popular. They are easy to store, take up less room in the fridge than your Tupperware would, are pleasing to the eye, you can pack it in perfect individual servings, and you can pack pretty much anything in them from liquid to solids and the jars don't leak. Only down side is that if you drop your lunch, it will smash. Luckily I didn't have this happen to me even though I'm a total klutz. This is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone looking to try mason jar foods. In the beginning of the book Julia explains how and why you want to assemble the food a certain way in the jar, she talks about the benefits of using mason jars instead of tupperware, and she also gives you extra tips for making your mason jar meals work. The only thing with mason jar recipes is that you need to make sure you are at a place where you have a bowl handy since a lot of the dishes need to be emptied out into a bowl to be eaten (they are layered so that they don't get soggy). For instance the guacamole salad was layered with the dressing and veggies on the bottom, then packed lettuce, then the avocado and chicken on top. So there are some dishes in here that wouldn't work for a full on-the-go dish. However, the tortellini dish would be perfect to just open and eat as you are running errands or moving around. Either way, I plan on trying out more of the recipes from this book and putting my dusty mason jars to good use.

1 comment:

Jules said...

Thanks so much for the review of my book! I appreciate it and I'm glad you liked the recipes!