Mediterranean Something in a Jar

After watching Melissa d-Arabian make a mediterranean “picnic in a jar” on the Food Network, I had to try it! You can see her original recipe here. Since I was making this for dinner, I didn’t end up packing all of the food in jars (though I packed the leftovers in a jar just to see how pretty it would be.)  Also, I added my own spices, extra layers and substituted some items where I needed to.


For the rice layer:

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chickpea layer:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the eggplant layer:

  • 1/2 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, such as leftover chicken or about 2 cutlets, cooked and cubed
For the greens layer: 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 lb kale, washed and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • cayenne pepper
For the Kalamata Tapenade:
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped small
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • handful of cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette, preferably homemade
Seems like an extensive list of ingredients, huh? It’s actually not that bad because the spices repeat quite a bit.  Also, you probably have a lot of these ingredients sitting around the kitchen.


Rice layer: 

Place the rice in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olives, cilantro, oil, vinegar, and salt, and pepper to make a light vinaigrette. Drizzle dressing over the rice and toss to coat completely.

Chickpea layer:

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil, then add the onions and cook over medium heat until very tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon,cayenne, and lemon juice and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat. Turn the heat up to high and deglaze the pan with the wine. Remove the pan from the heat, season with salt, and pepper, to taste and set aside.

 Eggplant layer:

Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and salt liberally. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes and then blot with paper towels. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions until tender. Add the blotted eggplant. The eggplant will absorb the oil, but only add more if the eggplant is very dry. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, turning occasionally. Add the garlic, and lower the heat, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Season the mixture with salt, and pepper, to taste and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 3 or 4 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute to soften just a little and force the juices to release. Turn off the heat. Season with salt, and pepper, and set aside.

Greens layer:

Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat for a few minutes.  Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander and cayenne and stir so that the onion mixture gets coated with the spices.  Add the kale and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook with the lid on for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes.  This will allow some of the broth to evaporate.

Kalamata Tapenade:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss.

As I said before, I didn’t serve this in jars.  I put all the dishes in separate bowl/plates and had people serve themselves.  It is a very colorful meal!  It’s also flavorful and packed with fiber and nutrients.  It will surely wake up your taste buds.  If you are packing this recipe in a jar, it’s good to put the rice layer on the bottom so that it will absorb all the juices of the other layers.  You can assemble the other layers however you wish but I do suggest putting the tapenade at the top.

My friend came over the day after I made this for dinner and we shared the leftovers from the jar.  He asked what it was and I said, “Mediterranean something.” Therefore, my unofficial name for this is Mediterranean Something.


About hmmfood

I am an aspiring nurse who funds my love for food by working a serving job. I love eating, trying new recipes, and watching other enjoy my creations!
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