Simple, portable, and nutritious, the Mason jar might just change the way you think about getting your recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The best place to try one for yourself here in Las Cruces? Nessa’s Café, located in a cozy and colorful building on Picacho Avenue.
Written by Jessica Muncrief
Photography by Steve MacIntrye
“I just liked the idea of it,” says Nessa herself, Vanessa Smith, when asked why they decided to add the dish to their menu. “We use Mason jars so much here already so it made sense. It’s just a fun, easy concept that saves on having to use plastic ware.”
If you want to try your hand at making one yourself, Nessa says it’s all about the layering. Think of it as designing a salad in reverse. For example, the dressing goes in first and the greens last, so when you dump it into a bowl, it comes out just like a traditional salad with greens on the bottom and dressing on top.
Nessa’s Café starts first with one of their three house-made dressings: a to die for ranch, a sweet and tangy pomegranate vinaigrette, and a traditional balsamic. Putting the dressing at the bottom of the jar protects some of the more delicate ingredients from getting soggy and, when it’s poured out into a bowl, everything gets a nice coating.
After the dressing, start with chunks of veggies or fruits that can hold their own and not wilt sitting in the dressing. Cherry tomatoes, fresh broccoli, mushrooms, and fruits like blueberries and strawberries are good choices. Next, stuff the rest of your jar with other fresh ingredient, like carrots, nuts, and peppers. Vanessa says chop the ingredients to your desired size, always keeping in mind the size of the Mason jar they will have to fit into. Finish off by topping with a hearty handful of mixed greens.
Perhaps the best thing about these healthy meals is that they are completely portable and they can be made ahead of time. Vanessa says they stay fresh for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Added bonus: if you take one to go from Nessa’s Café, you can bring the jar back next time for a discount on your next order. If salad isn’t hearty enough to fill your belly, pair with their homemade quiches or soups. Starting in early 2018, Nessa’s will be offering combo meals for customers that prefer to do so.
“Our Mason jar salads vary from day-to-day because we use whatever we have in the kitchen that we can throw in, always keeping it fresh,” Vanessa explains. “The fun part is that opening one is kind of like opening a present, there’s always a surprise or something unexpected in them.”
Two Mason Jar Salads to Try
Vanessa and James graciously whipped up two Mason jar salads to show us just what goes in to these couldn’t be simpler meals. “I like adding in a little fruit for people who like something sweeter,” James explains, “but a lot of people also like something more savory, so that’s when we throw in a whole bunch of veggies.”
Sweet & Tangy 5
Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing + Blueberries + Strawberries + Raspberries + Blackberries + Almonds + Walnuts + Mixed Greens
Savory & Colorful 5
Nessa’s House-made Ranch Dressing + Cherry Tomatoes + Broccoli + Mushrooms + Red Bell Peppers + Walnuts + Mixed Greens
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