Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Salad Jar, An Amazing Salad & My New Summer Picnic Trick!


I really don't 'do' cold weather...... I hate it. I regularly suggest to my husband that I am not 'designed' for UK weather and we really should consider packing up and moving to somewhere with a more consistently warm climate. I feel grumpy in thick puffy jackets all winter and crave the summer heat on my skin...... taking any opportunity I can when it arrives to allow it to soak me. It makes me feel happier!


Summer seems to have been very inconsistent in its emergence this year, but this week, I think we might just be able to start persuading ourselves that it has arrived! If I can take my cardigan off in the office, I count that as warm...... to wear a pair of shorts requires it to be hot hot hot! Okay....... I'm somewhere between the two right now....... but that's progress in the right direction, so I will try to persuade myself that the sun is making its presence felt.


Living a 2 minute walk from the beach means that we have an all year round picnic and barbecue spot available. If it's windy (which it mostly is), we can shelter behind the beach groynes or head to meet friends at a beach hut. If it's hot and sultry (which is rare), we can laze on the pebbles and dip our toes in the sea to cool off. To be honest, I need the latter to be comfortable........ But either way, no picnic or barbie is complete without a good salad to go with it.


Enter the picnic Salad Jar......

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Florette to find some tasty ways to use their salads and that started me thinking..... With lots of salady ideas spinning round my head, I first made this delicious Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan & Pine Nut Salad. But that was just the start of my inspiration........ And I have since been hankering to make this Salad Jar.


Enter from stage right...... the Jam J-Art Project, brought to us by Think Money. The idea is to come up with innovative ideas to recycle and keep those jars in use........ other than for filling with preserves! What a perfectly perfect opportunity for me to test my salad!

If you look closely, you will see this salad jar is layered...... So what's different you ask? There have been plenty of layered salads done before......


But this is no randomly layered salad....... it is carefully considered...... the order each ingredient lands its place in the jar is dependent on its individual qualities..... absorbency, crispiness, optimum texture for eating as well as colour and contrast......

You will also see that the dressing is at the bottom and the leaves are at the top........ That is no coincidence either. Much as they want to be together, the dressing gently caressing the soft, green leaves, it is important that they are not allowed to meet until the dinner date. There is nothing worse than soggy salad!


This salad is made to be the star of the picnic...... When you tip it out, it should drop in order into the salad bowl....... A perfectly pretty mixing........ the dressing running through the other ingredients as it falls, gently coating them to make a freshly tossed, crisp, just-made salad.

So what's in there? Mine is layered with cherry tomatoes, Feta cheese, toasted walnuts, crispy fried pancetta, roasted baby peppers, red spring onions and Florette Baby Leaf and Rocket salad leaves. All dressed with a slightly sharp, oregano-infused, lemon-balsamic dressing.


Don't fancy these ingredients? Just make it to taste! But remember to carefully plan your order of layering to make sure crispy and dry stuff stays dry and crispy!

I am sharing my Salad Jar with the following :

Credit Crunch Munch, this month with Jen's food on behalf of Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.




Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum







Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.











Cook Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes











Free From Fridays at the Free From Farmhouse











Simple & in Season with Ren Behan











#FoodYearLinkUp with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. This is perfect for National Picnic Week.





Picnic Salad Jar (use quantities to suit your preferences, size of jar(s) and number of people to feed)


Ingredients 

salad leaves - I used Florette Baby Leaf and Rocket
red spring onion/red onion - finely sliced
baby peppers - red, yellow and orange (I used super sweet chiquino peppers)
pancetta slices
walnut halves
Feta cheese - cut into cubes.
cherry tomatoes - red and yellow - cut in half

Balsamic-Lemon Dressing : 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
very large pinch of sea salt (I used smoked sea salt)
hefty grind black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano / ½ tablespoon fresh chopped oregano

Method

  1. Prepare the peppers by deseeding and cutting in half lengthways. Brush the base of a roasting dish with olive oil and add the peppers, very lightly brushing with oil remaining on the brush.
  2. Roast in the oven at 200 C/400 F/Gas 6 for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally until soft with edges beginning to brown. Set aside.
  3. Whilst the peppers are roasting, place your walnut halves in an oven-proof dish and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally to make sure they do not burn. Set aside.
  4. Fry the pancetta slices in a frying pan with a dash of hot olive oil until browning and then remove from the oil. Place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil as they cool. The pancetta will go crispy. Once cold, break into pieces about 2 inches/5 cm long.
  5. To make the dressing : put all the ingredients in a jar with a sealable lid and shake vigorously until mixed.
  6. To assemble the salad : It is important to assemble the ingredients in an order which will prevent leaves and other ingredients from going soggy before you are ready to eat. I assembled my jar as follows (the order in which the ingredients were put in the jar from bottom to top) : Dressing; halved Cherry Tomatoes; cubed Feta cheese; toasted Walnut halves; crispy fried Pancetta; roasted baby Peppers; finely sliced Red Spring Onion; Salad Leaves.
  7. Make sure you keep the jar upright when transporting and when you are ready, tip the contents into a salad bowl and Yay! you have layered fresh dressed salad.
With thanks to Florette Salad and Greg at Total Media for providing the salad vouchers and to Think Money for providing the Kilner Jar. I was not paid to write this post and all views represented are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

36 comments:

  1. I used to think salads in mason jars were invented by a food stylist desperate to do something new on a book shoot. But I have come full circle now and admit that it is a damned good idea – your salad looks delicious and portable – rain or shine. Thanks for linking with #CookBlogShare

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    1. Thanks Lucy. I know what you mean! When I first saw them I thought 'pretty but difficult to eat'! But turning it on its head and tipping it out seems so logical...... And it tipped out so perfectly. I moved nothing for the photos!!

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  2. This looks amazing! I've always thought these were meant to be eaten out the jar but I love the idea of it all being layered in order so you can just tip it out. Such beautiful colours too. Thanks for sharing on #freefromfridays

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    1. Thanks Emma. You're welcome. It worked brilliantly and the colours were picked for summer!

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  3. I love this and am so STEALING it. Thanks for sharing and for inspiring.

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    1. Ha ha! You're welcome Shaheen....... Have fun with it!!

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  4. that looks so pretty and so wonderfully portable - I really love the advice about layering it in the right order - had wondered at you having the leaves on top.

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    1. Thanks Johanna. The layering was really important to getting a salad that was fresh. My first thought was to do a salad you could eat out of the jar, but then I decided that salads are meant to be 'spread out' a bit, so this seemed to be the solution.

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  5. That is an absolutely brilliant idea, you've really inspired me. It will keep everything intact/less squashed whilst being portable. Perfect! #recipeoftheweek

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  6. What a fabulous idea, I love it. I'm with you on the climate, every January I insist we should emigrate to somewhere warmer! #recipeoftheweek



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    1. Thanks Julie. If only we had more predictable summers I would be happier!!

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  7. Oh my goodness, that salad is perfect for picnics! It's so fresh and is actually one of my favorites. :) The jar detailing just makes it even more perfect.
    I actually love cold weather. Hahahah
    We should switch anytime it starts getting cold where you live, the sun is always out by my place.

    Vegetarian Courtesy

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    1. Thanks Adi. Oh to be somewhere where the sun always shines! But I guess if that was the case, I'd still be complaining that I needed the cold occasionally too!!

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  8. Your Italian genes are calling you! I really struggle in the summer in the UK too but I go back to Italy very often. I really love your salad in a jar, looks so fresh and so delicious. So perfect for a healthy pic-nic.

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    1. Thank you Alida. I think you may be right..... My husband doesn't get it, but I think his family have a generational history of being North Europeans! But what we lack in warmth, I definitely try to make up for with flavours and colours from the South!

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  9. Oooo I love this! And I love the fact that you like jars too! I wrote about my obsession not long ago! I adore salads but at the moment on the GAPS diet I can't have any raw vegetables...I really really miss them but if I could have them I would be making this for lunch today!!

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    1. Thanks Vicki. Jars are great aren't they?! I had a little smile when I saw your post and though 'yeah... I get it!'
      No raw veg either? You poor thing!!

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  10. WOw, wow, wow, the concept, the photography, the food-gorgeous: sunshine in a jar! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays x

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    1. Thank you so much Vicki! I really appreciate your positive comments!!!

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  11. This is such a good idea. I love anything in a jar and this is fantastic for summer time salads. I love the combos in this one. K x #recipeoftheweek

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    1. Thank you so much. There is such a fantastic variety of textures and flavours here, yet they did seem to work together really well!

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  12. This is genius! What a great idea :)

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    1. Thank you Kate! And thanks for popping over x

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  13. This is an awesome salad, thank you so much for entering it into #CreditCrunchMunch;-)

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  14. This is a great idea - I increasingly store stuff in jars rather than plastic too these days. Lovely photos too!

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    1. Awwww... thanks Helen. I agree, I am increasingly a fan of jars!

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  15. I have to admit to not being convinced by salad in jars but now you've explained the logic of the layering I can certainly see the appeal. It looks lovely and colourful, thanks for sharing with Credit Crunch Munch :)

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    1. Thanks Jen. Trust me..... this one worked! But I do know what you mean..... I think it would have been very difficult to actually eat the salad out of the jar!

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  16. Kate you area marvel. I've seen many salads in a jar and haven't really got it, but I really do with this one. The tomatoes macerating in the salad dressing and then being tossed with all those delicious ingredients with the salad greens at the bottom - pure genius.

    Like Helen, I use glass jars for storage and always have.

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    1. Thank you Choclette. The idea of just eating the salad out of the jar didn't quite make sense to me either..... But this definitely made sense in my head and when I actually tried it, I was so excited!!!

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  17. Beautiful - thank you so much for entering your recipe into Simple and in Season. Pinned and the round up is up, Ren

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  18. Beautiful - thank you so much for entering your recipe into Simple and in Season. Pinned and the round up is up, Ren

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  19. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.

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