"Mason Jar Salads" by Julia Mirabella

The minister of my church once asked all the lawyers present to stand up. Nobody stood. “They’re all working. I should know, because I know the lawyers who are members of this church,” the minister reasoned. As an attorney, Julia Mirabella finds time to write a food blog at MyFoodandOtherStuff.com between long hours at the office analyzing data on computer screens and reading mile-high stacks of documents and forms.

While wisely managing time, Mirabella discovered the art of fine dining in a mason jar. To save time and money during the weekdays, she would concurrently pack several lunches in jars during the weekend. Once she mastered the technique of layering ingredients (such as placing vinaigrette at the bottom of the jars to avoid soggy salad leaves), she wrote a cookbook, Mason Jar Salads.

"Mason Jar Salads" by Julia Mirabella

Mason jars, once only ubiquitous in Grandma’s pantry, are now a quintessential food-hipster’s accessory. Their glass is thick to withstand the heat from canning, which also makes them less prone to breakage; their portable size allows a busy person to quickly grab a meal in jar while leaving home for work.

Mason Jar Salads starts with demonstrating how to layer ingredients, explaining the benefits of using mason jars and listing needed equipment. The cookbook then proceeds to introduce recipes such as breakfast smoothies and steel-cut oatmeal. After you read the next section on salads for lunch, ordering take out won’t seem as appealing. Featured recipes include a watermelon and feta salad, an appetizing summery caprese salad, and the classic cobb salad.

For people desiring heartier meals in a jar, the next section includes one of my favorite recipes: Tortellini with Basil Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella. I’ve included it below this story. My only change was adding shredded chicken, because I need protein during lunch (Mirabella suggests adding meat to the jars the day of consumption).

There are 50+ recipes in Mirabella’s Mason Jar Salads cookbook to help overworked people eat healthy lunches. Perhaps if the lawyers at my church started making their lunches on weekends, they would have time to attend their choice of religious service or relax with the Sunday paper in bed.

Visit Parade.com to get the recipe for Mirabella’s Tortellini with Basil Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella.