For many people, the word picnic conjures up torrid memories of soggy sandwiches, sun-baked potato salad and watered down lemonade. Yuck. Even the ants are left feeling unsatisfied. If that wasn’t bad enough, how often were the remnants so carefully placed on top of an overflowing garbage can it could have been mistaken for an intense game of jenga?

‘Pack it in Pack it out’ should not be a phase left for crazy, large-calved hikers taking on a fourteener, which, by the way, is so high that there isn’t even enough oxygen for trees to grow. Urbanites and suburbanites alike should be proud to bring garbage home, or better yet, make less garbage in the first place.

The mason jar picnic is not only green but also offers a super tasty picnic meal that isn’t soggy and doesn’t become nasty, poisoned mayonnaise. Layers of tender turkey, crunchy apple and hearty garbanzo beans are drizzled with a fresh minty pea dressing. Bring along a few seasonal fruits, roasted nuts and a simple dessert like this basil polenta cake with limoncello glaze to round out your picnic. Ooh, and since the mason jars have lids, there is no need to worry when you are tossed the frisbee mid lunch. Just catch, seal and go.

The possibilities with this mason jar salad are endless.Use chicken instead of turkey, skip the tomatoes, add in roasted corn or use a lemon honey dressing instead of the minty pea. Use these Fat and Happy recipe and tips as a base and be a green picnic winner!
To keep ice cubes from diluting the drinks – freeze lemonade, lemonade concentrate or tea in ice cube trays and use in place of water ice cubes.

Some men just want sandwiches over salads, you can easily turn this salad into a sandwich by bring along tortillas or pitas rather than crostini.

Mason Jar Turkey and Chickpea Salad with Minty Pea Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups shredded, precooked turkey (For ease, pick up a roasted turkey)
  • 4 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 apple, diced and tossed with fresh lemon juice to keep the apple from turning brown
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 4 heaping tablespoons dried cherries or craisins
  • 4 tablespoons snipped chives

Pea Vinaigrette

  • 1 heaping cup frozen peas
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 large mint leaves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

This makes roughly 4 standard mason jar salads, adjust the amounts for your preference, jar size and needs.
Warm the frozen peas and water just till the the peas are defrosted. Place the peas and remaining dressing ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of water to reach desired consistency if needed. This is your only chance to season the salad, so be very liberal with the salt and pepper. Pour a few tablespoons into the bottom of each mason jar or resealable container.

Chop all the salad ingredients and layer into and between the containers; leave about 1/2 inch space at the top of the jar before closing.

Serve to lunchmates with instructions to give the jar a good shake to distribute the dressing. Remember to serve crostini, too, so guests can eat along with the salad or pile the salad on top bruschetta-style.

Tips and techniques: Who said you can’t bring real silverware to a picnic? Just wrap it up in the napkins after using and wash when you get home; it’s greener than buying disposable. You could even pick up a picnic set at a local garage sale for pennies.

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