I work in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Even though some of Chicago’s greatest restaurants are within walking distance of me, the area remains particularly distressing and expensive when it comes to lunch. Also, I cannot just close up the shop and take a 2 hour tasting menu at Blackbird on workdays, much as I would like.
What about chicken?
I am always puzzled when people tell me how lucky I am to work next to a Harold’s Chicken Shack, because I don’t think that feeling bad, bloated and odious after eating your lunch is a particularly lucky state of being.
What about the Whole Foods salad bar then?
My response is that it’s bland, expensive and unreliable in terms of freshness. You know where I am heading with this, right? Yup, time for a lesson in Shebnation salad making! This is nothing new, these mason jar salads have been around for awhile, but unlike cauliflower pizza crusts, they actually work.
Remember how I told you about making vinaigrette? I am positive that all of you whipped up a batch and have it ready for your work salad making tutorial.
Here is what you will need:
6 Tbsps of your Vinaigrette
3 one quart mason jars with lids (twee & irritating- yes! but environmentally friendly and perfect for this job)
2 cups frozen cauliflower, steamed and cooled, then rough chopped.
I bell pepper chopped (I chose yellow this week)
2 Persian Cucumbers chopped (they are small and crunchy and don’t have large watery seeds. No-one likes a large, watery seed.)
9 ounces (255 grams) chopped chicken tenders (cooked and cooled beforehand, use this genius technique but use the tenders and season them nicely). I used a piri piri spice blend plus salt and pepper when I did these.
3 ounces (84 grams) feta cheese. Use a pungent sheep/goat blend that is real and stored in its own milky brine.
21 oil cured olives
6 cups of lettuce, but please leave it alone for now.
Everything is ready to go here. I have put 2 Tbsps of vinaigrette at the bottom, and divided the cauliflower into each jar. Now that bland little vegetable will sit next to the tart vinaigrette and soak up all its power.
Next add the cucumbers and peppers. Please take a moment to season this layer with salt and pepper- see all the little flecks in the picture?
Add the chicken, olives and feta, again all divided into 3. Do NOT season this layer. Remember, your chicken should already be seasoned and the olives and feta are salty!
Close up the jars and put them in your fridge for up to five days. The space at the top of the jar is for lettuce, add about 2 cups of chopped, clean lettuce. You can stuff it in there a little. But do it the DAY OF THE SALAD EATING, otherwise nasty wilted lettuce happens, ruining all your hard work.
At work, obtain a bowl and dump the salad in there. The vinaigrette at the bottom will dress the salad with a few tosses and voila! You’ve done something nice for yourself that won’t make you feel odious in the workplace.
Don’t like feta or olives?- use nuts or dried fruit, even chopped apples. Put the firmest of your salad choices at the bottom to soak in the vinaigrette because the acids will begin to break down more tender vegetables. You can also use leftover roasted vegetables, any kind of meat you might have, or hard boiled eggs. Spinach, kale, arugula or any green you like can take the place of lettuce. If briny things like feta or olives are not involved, remember to please salt and pepper your greens layer the morning you add it to the jar.
Calories: Around 516
Fat: 38 grams
Protein: 21 grams
Read more "All The Lunch Feelz."