The minute we started testing this Chickpea and Oat Salad recipe, we knew that it would be a perfect candidate for serving in individual jars. It’s a terrific mix of colors and textures, all of the food groups are represented and everything is sturdy enough to stand up to layering. Cooking the steel cut oats al dente will keep the individual grains separate and firm.
As any lover of salads in mason jars knows, the order of the ingredients is just as important as the ingredients themselves. Here are couple easy-to-remember rules for prep time:
- It seems backwards, but start with your dressing. Yup, you heard me. Pour it right into the jar.
- Heavy or crisp ingredients come next – think firm raw veggies, like carrots, raw peppers and chopped celery. If you are using a vinaigrette, these ingredients will almost “pickle” as they sit. Avoid ingredients that tend to take on moisture, like grains, and ingredients that tend to give off moisture, like cucumbers. They can go a little higher up in the jar.
- Next come the rest of the veggies, the beans and the grains. As you’re layering, give some thought to color and texture. You want your jar to look just as pretty from the outside as it is tasty inside. Remember – we eat with our eyes first.
- Proteins can go in next. Cold cooked meats; shredded, crumbled or cubed cheeses; chopped or sliced hard-boiled eggs. (If you want to go meatless – don’t forget that oats plus beans, eggs or dairy make a complete protein!)
- Finish your jar with the delicate stuff – the fresh herbs, sprouts, and salad greens – and anything else that you don’t want to get wet, like nuts and croutons. Pack it all in, screw the lid on and pop it in your cooler or lunch box, along with an ice pack or two.
At mealtime, grab your jar, turn it upside down, give it a good shake and dig in. You can eat right out of the jar, or dump the whole thing out into a bowl. Either way, it’ll be delicious.
For the oats:
- 1 cups steel cut oats (500 ml)
- 1 cups boiling water (500 ml)
- 1/4 tsp salt (1 ml)
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (60 ml)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp cumin (5 ml)
- 1 tsp honey (5 ml)
- 1/2 tsp salt (2.5 ml)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped (125 ml)
For the salad:
- 1 Tbsp canola or olive oil (15 ml)
- 1 small red onion, sliced thickly
- 1 red bell pepper, quartered
- 2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (540 ml)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (125 ml)
To cook oats:
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, toast oats for 5 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly.
- Transfer to a bowl, pour-over boiling water and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and let stand for 15-20 minutes, or until oats have absorbed all of the water. Fluff with fork.
To make dressing:
- In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.
To grill vegetables:
- Brush onion, red pepper and zucchini with olive oil and grill over medium high heat until tender and slightly charred.
- Remove from grill pan, roughly chop and set aside.
To assemble individual salads:
- Divide dressing between 6-8 small mason jars.
- To each jar, add a layer of chickpeas, a layer of oats, a layer of chopped grilled vegetables and a spoonful of crumbled feta.
- Seal tightly and refrigerate.
- Before eating, give jar a good shake to distribute dressing.
To assemble one big salad:
- In a large bowl, combine cooked oats, chickpeas, grilled vegetables and feta.
- Add dressing and toss well to combine.
- Serve at room temperature or cold. Salad can be made the day before.