Salads in a Jar
Anna Helm Baxter
Hachette Book Publishers
Salads in a Jar is exactly as the title suggests: easy-to-make, beautifully healthy lunches that are compact and easy to take to and from work.
I read through this book because I struggle with lunches at work. I usually eat leftovers for the next night’s dinner, and not for lunch. So, I want my lunches to be either something I can quickly (and cheaply) make, or something that doesn’t cost too much to buy.
“In a world where many of us find ourselves eating meals on the go or at our desks, there seem to be two dismal scenarios. A packed salad that ends up soggy, brown, and limp leafed (or worse, spilled all over your bag). Or an overpriced, mediocre purchased salad that leaves you thinking that you could have done it better (and cheaper) yourself.”
I really like the idea of this book. There are over 55 illustrated recipes for simple-to-prepare salads, dressings and snacks to take on the go. There are also some desserts in the back of the book.
At the beginning of the book, there are pages of dressings that you can make to go with each of the salads in the book. The easiest way for me to organise these lunches was to pick a particular dressing from the front of the book, make it, and then make all of the salads in the book that use that dressing. That way, you just need to buy the ingredients for a few select salads, and then for the dressing. The only downside to this is that you’ll be eating similar-tasting salads that entire week, given that each of them will be using the same dressing. But I imagine that’s not too much of an issue for most people.
I made the Tahini Zinger dressing and then made the three salads in the book that used that dressing (all of the ingredients cost me about $25 at the supermarket, which seemed very reasonable). The salads ended up being quite big, so the three salads lasted me five lunches.
Something to note about this book is that it’s most ideal for vegans, vegetarians or people who need to eat gluten free. Not a lot of these salads have meat in them. A couple include tuna, but that’s about it. And since I’m a meat-eater and was concerned that I wouldn’t be full just from what was in the recipe, I added chickpeas and some extra nuts, seeds and tuna to most of my salads. This also gave it some extra flavour and variety to the meal.
If you were to go and make some of these salads, here are some tips:
1. The amount of dressing that the recipe makes is not the same amount that is in the picture. The recipe actually makes a fair bit less. So, I’d recommend making a double batch so you have more dressing.
2. Further to that, I recommend adding more dressing to the salad recipes. Most of them say to only use about 1-2 tablespoons of dressing, and I didn’t think that was enough (especially when some of the salads were designed to fit an entire 1L jar!)
3. Some of the ingredients can be odd things that are tricky to find in the supermarket (and sometimes they’re called different things in the store). A couple of supermarkets that I went to didn’t have all of the items that I needed, so I actually ended substituting some of the ingredients with other things that would also work.
4. Some of the salads are a little bland and very heavy on greenery, so I’d recommend maybe adding some additional things into the salad if you think you’ll find the taste too bland. Some examples of things you could add: tuna, chickpeas, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, nuts, avocado, more dressing, or carrot.
5. Some of the recipes call for pre-cooked grains, which is great if you’ve got the time. One of the recipes needed me to pre-cook for 60 minutes and I didn’t have the time, so I left that out of the recipe and put in more chickpeas, avocado and tuna. Still tasted great and I saved myself 60 minutes!
6. Ironically, I don’t actually own a lot of empty jars, so I just put my salads into normal containers and it worked just fine.
With a few adjustments, I really enjoyed making these salads and then eating them throughout the week. I did have to add a few things in, but everyone is different and I imagine others might do the same. I’d recommend this book to professionals who have some spare time on a Sunday afternoon/night and want to save money on lunches throughout the week. The ingredients weren’t too expensive and didn’t take too long to put together.
Thank you to Hachette Publishers for sending me a review copy.