An easy on-the-go lunch or dinner, this ranch chicken salad is a great way to repurpose your leftovers, make lunch grab-and-go, and ensure you’re eating right even when life feels like it’s running a marathon.
I roll over, kicking the covers off and lying there in my bed, letting myself adjust to the temperature difference. The cold air washes over me. Slowly, I open my eyes, daylight streaming in through the windows feels far too bright for the time of day.
Closing my eyes again, I listen for the sounds of life in the house.
In a perfect world, I’ll have a few minutes to sit at the computer, letting the feeling of being upright rush over me and sipping a cup of coffee before the kids come running out needing help finding clothes, breakfast, testing the weather to see if they can get away with shorts, searching for the homework they swear up and down to have put in their backpack last night that has mysteriously vanished. And lunches.
Every evening after dinner I spend a few minutes repackaging our leftovers so they’re easy to grab for lunches. Including Ole, there are currently four lunches that need to go out the door each morning. Having those things together, even partially, before the morning rush hits does a lot to keep me sane. Enter: the mason jar.
The jar does a lot to keep the things inside fresh, the lunch in one neat package, and to keep packing it simple. I loathe the lunches that have seven separate containers that never seem to fit in the dedicated lunch box. Not to mention that those school lunch emergencies always seem to occur five minutes before the bus pulls up. The jar means I just need to add an apple on the side, a slice of bread, a simple snack and everything is ready to fly out the door. Additionally, it makes a great picnic meal, with everyone getting a jar and a fork instead of multiple dishes and plates, and when you’re done, it’s easy to cap off and carry back instead of storing dirty dishes somewhere.
Last month I had the opportunity to travel to New York to shoot a video for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. My job is hard. I get to see people I love, like Amanda. It involves staying in Kimpton Hotels, which are easily my favorite hotel chain and have been for the last four years. You can see our gorgeous rooms at the Eventi Hotel on Amanda’s site. Finally, it involves laughing in the green room with a bunch of wonderful bloggers. Oh, and that bit about shooting a video. There was some of that going on, too.
Amanda is addicted to Instagram, which I’m sure is why she has her phone out in this photo. At the moment she’s in Italy, and her pictures of her trip have been just amazing. It was Amanda’s idea to make our dish in a jar. It’s because she’s a dessert lover, and I’m pretty sure the jars remind her of the photo shoot we did for Desserts in Jars last October.
Ignore that I tell you this twice in the video thanks to editing: The wet ingredients go on the bottom. It keeps them separate from the lettuce, which prevents it from wilting. Wilted lettuce does not a good salad make.
- I used a 1-Liter Leifheit Canning Jar They are one of my favorite jar manufacturers. You can use any 1-quart or 1-liter jars, but be sure you pick one with a wide-mouth lid.
- This will easily stay 5 or so days in the refrigerator, so you can make a variety on Sunday night and have lunches for the week ready to go.
- If you skip the video, you can just shake it up to combine all the ingredients before you eat, or you can just open it and stir it as you go.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt and pepper
6 ounces cooked pasta shells or other small shape
6 ounces chicken, cooked and cut into pieces
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach or baby lettuces
In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, parsley, chives, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add in the pasta and stir until combined. Split the creamy pasta between two 1 quart or 1 liter mason jars.
On top of the pasta layer, add the chicken pieces, split between the two jars. Next, layer the diced red pepper, and finally, top the jar with the lettuce. Seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
When time to serve, shake the jar until all the ingredients are covered in the sauce. Unscrew the lid and eat.
Makes 2 salads in a jar.