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)
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)
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To make the dressing : put all the ingredients in a jar with a sealable lid and shake vigorously until mixed.
- 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.
- 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.
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