Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Pasta Jar
Dear lunchbox warriors,
Ever since starting my dietetic internship, I’ve come to be very familiar with the struggle of the lunchbox. How am I supposed to fit my stack of reusable containers neatly into the awkwardly-shaped bag along with an ice pack (because, you know, #foodsafety)–AND still get it to close properly? Not to mention the puzzle of attempting to arrange the containers in a way that doesn’t pose a direct threat to the structural integrity of my beloved PB & banana sandwich (anyone who knows me personally knows well that I never go a day without one of those sandwiches–I have as much love for them as I do hate for avocados, just saying).
I know, you’re probably thinking that I should just invest in a bigger lunchbox. Indeed I could, but where’s the fun in that? I like my lunchbox–it’s cute and has a lovely floral print reminds me of a sofa from the 70’s. Plus, getting creative when it comes to food just happens to be my specialty. I started thinking, what if instead of packing different food components in various smaller containers and combining them at meal time, I just piled everything up in one larger container? (As my dad would say, “everything’s going to the same place anyways”–quality dad wisdom.) Better yet, what if this larger container happened to be a jar of some sort? Not only are glass jars easy to come across, but they have secure lids, are easy to clean, hold, transport, and fit elegantly into a lunch box. Not to mention that your food aesthetic will increase a hundredfold the moment you whip out a beautifully packed glass jar instead of boring plastic tubs.
Anywho, I plan to focus my next few food posts on different glass jar food themes that you can use to bring a little something healthy and different to your packed food game–whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. I have lots of fun ideas, and I can’t wait to share them with you all! To be quite honest, when I’m done sharing all of my tricks you’ll probably be wishing I’d put a lid on it and move on (please, don’t continue reading until you catch that last pun and fully appreciate my terrible sense of humor).
This first idea is a simple take on a cold sun-dried tomato and basil pasta dish (because who doesn’t need a few carbs to get over that mid-day slump?) Side note: I’m not calling these “recipes” because the exact amounts of food you put in the jar will vary depending on your appetite and size of the jar. Plus, I want you to have the freedom and ability to add any extra ingredients that sound good to you or swap out certain ingredients so that these ideas can fit your own dietary needs.
- 1 jar (Yes, this is imperative to the success of your creation. I just happened to use an old kimchi jar, but feel free to use jam jars or mason jars)
- Whole wheat pasta
- Fresh basil leaves
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Diced onion (any variety)
- Feta cheese
- Marinara sauce
Start by giving your jar a good clean to make sure your new food creation isn’t unintentionally infused with ghost flavors of jarred foods past. Once you have a clean jar, it’s time to think about layering. Sure, you could pile everything in without much rhyme or reason and everything would still taste just fine. However, layering the different food components (especially when you’re dealing with a sauce) will allow for a more even distribution of flavors. In the jar featured in the photos of this post, I started by creating a base layer of a few chopped spinach leaves. Then, I layered in about 2 Tbsp. of whole wheat noodles, 2 Tbsp. of marinara sauce, a few fresh basil leaves, and a few sun-dried tomato pieces. To top off this layer, I added in a small sprinkle of feta (try to be sparing with the amount of feta you add to keep this meal on the “lighter” side). The height of my jar allowed me to add in about two more layers identical to the one I just described, resulting in 3 delicious, picturesque layers total. Simple as that, I screwed on the lid and placed it in the fridge overnight for easy grab and go in the morning.
Pro tip: Set aside some time on the weekend to cook your pasta for the week ahead. Toss the cooked pasta lightly in olive oil before you store it to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Having the pasta already cooked leads to success in fast assembly of your food jar.
Keep an eye out for more “food in a jar” ideas throughout the next few weeks!
P.S. I’m eating the creation pictured above as I write this post and it is even better than I imagined. Now I just need to find more jars…..