Friday, November 11, 2011

Meals In A Jar

I found this idea online and thought it was fabulous! As you may have guessed, I LOVE canning jars and am always looking for ways to use them. This is a fun way to have a meal ready to eat at home, work, or on the go.

Here's how I made my Pesto Pasta Salad

Once I started boiling water for my pasta (I used penne noodles, but you can use spiral or bow tie too), I began to make my homemade pesto. Feel free to use premade pesto. Trader Joe's has a yummy pesto in the fresh section and also in their pasta sauce isle. I got my food processor ready and added the following ingredients:

2 handfuls of fresh basil
1/3 cup roasted pine nuts (you can always toast raw pine nuts yourself or just buy them already roasted)
3 T of olive oil
2 t crushed garlic
A pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper

Puree all the ingredients until smooth; add more basil or oil if needed. If it's too thick, add a little oil; and if it's too runny, add some more basil. Just taste it as you make it and add whatever it needs to your liking!

Once you've made your pesto and pasta, you can start layering your meal. Put a few spoonfuls of pesto on the bottom as your first layer. Halve grape tomatoes for the next layer. The pesto with help the tomatoes keep their fresh color. Next, pile on cubes of your favorite cheese. I used pepper jack, but mozzarella would be delicious too! Finally, add your pasta and screw on the lid. I bought reusable lids. They are great to use once you open a jar that has been vacuumed, but they come in handy for canned recipes that don't need vacuuming in the first place. Stack your jars in the fridge and eat them within a week. Mine look a little dewy because they were in the fridge for a while before I was able to take pictures.

There are SO many other options for a meal in a jar. I want to try chicken salad next time:

1st layer: marinated chickpeas OR black beans (marinated in the dressing of your choice)
2nd layer: chopped grilled chicken
3rd layer: chopped bell pepper
4th layer: halved grape tomatoes
5th layer: chopped lettuce

Just shake the jar and your chicken salad is ready to eat!