Perfect for Picnic: Portable Jars of Greek Salad with Orzo and Black Eyed Peas

There is something whimsical about al fresco dining in the summertime. Warm breezes, fireflies, colorful seasonal produce and cold drinks to wash them all down. I adore early evening grilling in my backyard, managing the squishing of butts into the benches of my purple picnic table, lighting of citronella and swatting of mosquitos. But, I also enjoy packing a picnic for other scenic sites around town – the grass is equally green (with fewer holes from doggy digging!) As Center City Park programming becomes increasingly popular I’ve made no excuse but to visit frequently – especially considering my proximity to Downtown from Mendenhall.

I thought these jars of Greek salad in mason jars where particularly charming and perfect for an outdoor picnic at Center City Cinema. The jars are a perfect (and sustainable way) to avoid junky looking and floppy paper plates. Additionally, I made these salads the night before and they remained fresh for two days! I had a leftover salad the following Saturday (which I dumped onto the plate below) and the lettuce was still crisp! I’ll reuse the jars over and over this summer for more portable meals. Invest in a couple of jars and get creative, you’ll feel like a true Southerner (they are great to drink sweet tea out of too!)

Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas from Gourmet Magazine, August 2008

  • 3/4 cup orzo
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
  • 2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped romaine
  • 1/2 pound feta, crumbled (1 cup)
  • 4 to 8 peperoncini

Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Toss black-eyed peas, tomato, and parsley with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Marinate, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss together orzo, remaining tablespoon oil, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

Divide black-eyed-pea mixture (with juices) among jars and layer orzo salad, romaine, and feta on top. Add 1 or 2 peperoncini to each jar.



  1. My grandmother worked in the Ball glass factory when I was growing up and I’ve seen them used for a lot of things…this is a great idea!

      • Actually, hold the phone. I used almost a full pound of orzo and two cans of black eyed peas. I adjusted this to make 6 jars. Its like any salad – just improvise!

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