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Cure for the Boring Brown Bag Lunch – Mason Jar Salads

mason jar salad pomegranate and pear

Kids aren’t the only ones that are getting brown bag lunches now that it is back to school. If you are trying to save money, or just like to keep track of what you eat, bringing your own lunch is the best way to go. But does it always have to be a sandwich, an apple and a drink? Um NO!

I have the cure of the boring brown bag lunch. The new cook book Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go
by Julia Mirabella, is FULL of delicious and fun new salads that you can bring to work, or on a day trip. And what is more fun than a lunch in a mason jar? These are much more than just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers with dressing. I have two of my favorite recipes, Pomegranate and Pear Salad and a Spinach, Radish and Quinoa salad, just for my readers to brighten up your daily lunch break.

Don’t be afraid of adding fruit or grains to your salads. I do this all the time with leftovers in my fridge and it adds a lot of texture and great flavor to my lunches. YUM!



Pomegranate and Pear Salad

This salad never fails to put me in the fall spirit. Pears and blue cheese pair beautifully, but it’s the tart pomegranate seeds that really make this salad special. You can buy pomegranates whole and break them down yourself or purchase just the seeds at most grocery stores.

Makes 1 serving

1 pear, cored and thinly sliced
3 cups spinach leaves, divided
1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds
1⁄4 cup roughly chopped pecans
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons Sherry Vinaigrette
1 quart-size Mason jar

Place the pear slices in the bottom of the Mason jar. Layer 2 cups of the spinach on top of the pear, then add the pomegranate seeds, another 1⁄2 cup spinach, and the chopped pecans. Finish with the remaining 1⁄2 cup spinach and the blue cheese.

Make a small cup out of parchment paper at the top of the jar and pour in the vinaigrette dressing. Seal the jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sherry Vinaigrette
2 1⁄2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking, until the dressing thickens.

Mason Jar Salad Spinach Radish Quinoa Spinach, Radish, and Quinoa salad

While it may seem like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed — an awesome, nutrition-packed seed. Quinoa is a great source of protein, fiber, and iron, and its fluffy texture makes it a perfect addition to salads. Here I’ve included it in a spring salad along with spinach, radishes, and peas.

Makes 1 serving

1⁄4 cup uncooked quinoa
1⁄2 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons Blueberry Vinaigrette (below)
1/3 cup cucumber chunks
1⁄3 cup diced vine-ripened tomatoes
1⁄3 cup fresh peas (or substitute sugar snap peas)
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced radishes
2 cups spinach leaves
1 quart-size Mason jar

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running water. Place in a small saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Let the quinoa cool before adding it to the salad.

Layer the ingredients in the Mason jar, starting with the vinaigrette dressing and continuing with the cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, and radishes. Add the cooled quinoa and finish with the spinach greens. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.

Blueberry Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil

Place the blueberries, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil until it is the right consistency.

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  1. This is a neat idea, the novelty of it might make more people eat healthy.

  2. I wonder if the salad stays fresher, longer this way?