Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads“If we are creating ourselves all the time, then it is never too late to begin creating the bodies we want instead of the ones we mistakenly assume we are stuck with.”
― Deepak Chopra

In two weeks I celebrate my seven-year anniversary of walking through the doors of the Weight Watchers center in Marquette, Michigan to become a member. I shared the story of my journey in a post on my birthday in June (click here to read).

Daily, I think about how thankful I am to have embraced a healthy lifestyle and to be given the opportunity to be a Weight Watchers leader and help others maximize their health and find success in weight management.

When I started Produce with Amy I was nervous and unsure if anyone would even read my posts. I am grateful for the continued support and messages that I receive from those who are following my blog and those who stumble on my Facebook page or find my recipes on Pinterest. If you are reading this now I would like to thank you! While writing helps keep me accountable to my own goals, I love the way the Internet can erase the miles and that my posts from the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan can reach people across the country and across the globe. I am constantly using my blog as an authentic and real world example of writing with my high school students. It makes me giggle when they roll their eyes and tell me, “Mrs. Laitinen, my mom reads your blog and last night we had green smoothies.” How cool is that?

There's my name. Part of my fifteen minutes of fame! :)

There’s my name on the very bottom. Part of my fifteen minutes of fame. 🙂 Thank you, Florine!

In July, I was THRILLED to be contacted by Weight Watchers Marketing Manager, Donna DeMarco, to see if I would be interested in writing an article for the THINLINE publication. THINLINE is given out at all of the meetings within our WW franchise. (Read my piece on page 24 entitled Inner Spark.) Ms. DeMarco said that both her and Florine Mark are fans of my blog. I cannot think of a bigger compliment and I am so thankful.

Earlier today I shared my recipe for an exotic and elegant, Fruited Chia Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette. I am equally excited to share a more classic salad and dressing recipe that I know will be a big hit with many because what is better than a Greek salad? I have never been to Greece but it is a destination that occupies the top of my bucket list. Even though my heritage is mainly of Finnish and Swedish descent, I am asked often if I am Greek.
Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette Greek Vinaigrette DressingGREEK VINAIGRETTE DRESSING13

  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of red wine vinegar (since homemade dressings can be made to suit individual tastes, I always recommend that you add vinegar to meet the level of tartness that you enjoy. If you prefer your dressings less tart you can add more olive oil)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard (I have also used spicy brown mustard)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon red onion (you can substitute with green, white, or yellow onion)
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano (Approximately 2 Tablespoons. If you are using dried use 1-2 teaspoons. Taste as you go and add more if desired)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (You can add more depending on taste. You could also skip the oil and add the oil directly to each salad, or to the jar, to maintain portion control)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Blend well. When this dressing is blended, it does get frothy but will separate when stored in the refrigerator. It could also be mixed with a whisk if you want a more rustic texture.
Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek VinaigretteWhen making Mason Jar Salads  put the dressing in first and keep it away from the greens. The acid in the dressing will make the greens slimy. If you close tight (I do not vacuum seal my jars) they will keep for over a week in the refrigerator. When you are ready to eat you can shake, and either pour the salad out on a plate or bowl, or eat straight out of the jar.

MEDITERRANEAN MASON JAR SALADS
I layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason jars. (I made six salads)

  • 3 Tablespoons of Greek Vinaigrette 
  • Sliced cucumber (I used two cucumbers)
  • Chopped green bell pepper (I used two peppers)
  • Beets (I love beets in Greek salad. I used my mom’s pickled beets but you could roast your own or buy them prepared in a can or jar)
  • Artichoke hearts (I bought them from the olive bar in our local grocery store. You can also buy them canned or in a jar)
  • Orzo pasta salad (recipe to follow)
  • Pepperoncini (I divided this jar between the salads ~ 4-5 peppers per jar)
  • Kalamata olives (I used 5 olives per jar)
  • Feta Cheese (even though I try to remain dairy-free I did end up putting 2 Tablespoons of feta in the salads.)
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

Orzo SaladORZO PASTA SALAD 

  • One cup of white beans
  • Two cups of cooked orzo pasta
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (I was still able to pick fresh tomatoes from my garden)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon each of fresh oregano, mint, and dill (if you are using dried you can use one teaspoon)
  • Handful of fresh parsley (you can substitute a couple teaspoons of dried)Orzo Pasta Salad
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix well. This also serves as a great side or main dish. If serving on its own you can add olives, artichokes, peppers, feta cheese, and even chopped kale, spinach, or your favorite green.

How lucky am I to have these for my lunches this week?!

How lucky am I to have these for my lunches this week?!

A classic Greek salad gets a modern makeover when layered in a jar.

A classic Greek salad gets a modern makeover when layered in a jar.

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek VinaigretteSo far, for this school year, I have made a different kind of Mason Jar Salad each week. They stay fresh and are a great way to make sure you are getting a variety of fruit and vegetables into your meal plan. Many of my Weight Watchers members love them and say that the jarred salads inspire them to make more vibrant selections and that they end up throwing away less produce. The bottom line is that Mason jar salads can be better on our waistline and on our pocketbook. I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you try this salad, or any of my other recipes, please let me know. I wish you a healthy and energy packed week!

Click here to Pin this recipe on Pinterest.

If you are interested in other Mason Jar Salads, please check out my other salads anddressings. You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page.

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

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Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette

 “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

― L.M. Montgomery

A tree in our neighbor's backyard.

A tree in our neighbor’s backyard.

There is an elegance in autumn that is not present in other seasons. The light, filtering through the leaves, has the quality of honey – thick and syrupy. Toothache sweet.

I had a revelation this afternoon. My Mason Jar Salad obsession takes root in the fact that my salads are like fall. October in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is very much like a Mason Jar Salad.

October contains all of summer’s potential bottled up and presented in layered prettiness. Autumn is nature’s last stand before a long and cold winter. Fall attempts to coax our senses into accepting another season of hibernation. A jarred salad is portable and has the potential to be filled with an abundance of nutrients. It is an enticing container of fuel for our hectic and busy lives.

I have not posted recipes for the past couple weeks but I still have been preparing healthy meals. Last week I wanted to create a salad that was brimming with autumn’s lushness. About a month ago I started experimenting with the lavender in my garden and I found the flavor it brought to salad dressing pleasing.
Lavender

The night that I met my husband Mike (August 2011), he walked me home from a gathering. We lingered outside and talked for hours. My landlord had planted a patch of lavender and I remember that night plucking a strand to crush and smell the tranquil aroma. To this day, lavender reminds me of Mike. When he was deployed to Iraq I bought lavender linen spray for his return and it was the first perennial we planted when we bought our house.

Mike, Phoebe, and I have been enjoying the mild weather with evening walks.

Mike, Phoebe, and I have been enjoying the mild weather with evening walks.

In the past I would pick and dry lavender, but I had not experimented with using lavender in recipes until this fall. Lavender imparts a fruity taste so I combined it with fresh berries, fruit, and citrus.

Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender VinaigretteFruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette

Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make. When you start with wholesome ingredients the end result is satisfying and packed with nutrition. Store-bought dressings often contain chemicals and preservatives.

Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make. When you start with wholesome ingredients the end result is satisfying and packed with nutrition. Store-bought dressings often contain chemicals and preservatives.

I tend to like tart dressings and I suggest that you experiment with how much lemon juice and vinegar you like in your dressing.

I tend to like tart dressings and I suggest that you experiment with how much lemon juice and vinegar you like in your dressing.


BLACKBERRY & LAVENDER VINAIGRETTE DRESSING15

  • 1 pint of fresh blackberries (frozen would work as well)
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup of water (many homemade dressings do thicken as they sit and I thin out with water or extra vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (you can always leave the oil out and add it individually to the Vitamix Dressingbottom of your jar, or to each salad for portion control)
  • 1 lemon ~ juice and zest 
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of lavender blossoms (I harvested the lavender a few days ahead so it would dry)
  • 1 Tablespoon of raw honey (you could also use maple syrup)Blend dressing well.

When making Mason Jar Salads  put the dressing in first and keep it away from the greens. The acid in the dressing will make the greens slimy. If you close tight (I do not vacuum seal my jars) they will keep for over a week in the refrigerator. When you are ready to eat you can shake, and either pour the salad out on a plate or bowl, or eat straight out of the jar.

Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry &  Lavender VinaigretteFRUITED CHIA MASON JAR SALADS
I layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason jars. (I made five salads)

  • 3 Tablespoons of Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Sliced cucumber (I used two cucumbers)
  • 1 cup of fruit salad with Chia seeds and lime juice (recipe to follow)
  • White Beans (I used 1/2 cup)
  • Raw mixed nuts (I used 1/4 cup)
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

Fruit Salad with Lime Juice and Chia Seeds

FRUIT SALAD WITH LIME JUICE AND CHIA SEEDS

  • 1 chopped orange (I also included the orange zest before peeling)
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 chopped mango
  • 2 chopped kiwi
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • 5 Teaspoons of chia seeds
  • 2 Teaspoons of fresh mint ~ chopped
  • Optional ~ sweetener of choice (I did not use any). As the fruit salad sits the juices will marry and the flavor will become even more pleasing. 

There was approximately a cup of fruit salad remaining after I assembled the salads.

The salads turned out exactly as I hoped they would. They would also be lovely plated and would make a superb course for an autumn luncheon or dinner.

The combination of blackberry and lavender speak eloquently of autumn's ripe splendor.

The combination of blackberry and lavender speak eloquently of autumn’s ripe splendor.

The dressing and salad both harness the jubilation of October and I can imagine recreating both in the heart of winter for a fragrant and uplifting taste of deja vu. What is next up on my agenda? My plan is to continue writing and this evening I will be sharing another recipe for a Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad with Greek Vinaigrette. So stay tuned!

Pin this recipe here.

If you are interested in other Mason Jar Salads, please check out my other salads and dressings. You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page.
Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette

The flowers in my garden are still blooming.

The flowers in my garden are still blooming.

My pink roses are blooming better now than they were this summer.

My pink roses are blooming better now than they were this summer.

My sunflowers were late in blooming this year. Normally they bloom in the beginning of September.

My sunflowers were late in blooming this year. Normally they bloom in the beginning of September.

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Chia Fruit and Berry Salad with Citrus