Packed lunch: eggplant for the win

Ever since Mark Bittman got on the less-meat bandwagon a few years back, I’ve been following his writing with interest (before that, I’ll confess, not so much). I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but who do you always agree with? But back in August he penned an article that I completely and wholeheartedly agree with, on the topic of packing lunch from home. While I don’t always manage to bring a packed lunch with me to the office, I do try to make it a regular habit. Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to make lunch more of a workday high point, packing a little bento box and hunting out new outdoors spots for eating. Since I’m sure I’m not the only person who occasionally wants to bust their lunch out of a rut, I thought I’d start a little series to share some of my lunches. I’d love to get some comments on your favorite lunch ideas too!

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Getting ready to tuck in: Lunch and reading (a vintage Phillipa Gregory, Earthly Joys. Gregory is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this one didn’t catch me as much as her Tudors and Plantagenets books).

As bento boxes go, mine is fairly simple, a stainless steel Lunchbots Duo with two compartments. The box looks quite small compared to the collection of plastic containers that have held my lunches in the past, but it actually holds plenty of food. I like having the divider so that I can pack a multi-part meal like the one above. For this meal, I started with two leftover dinner dishes: half a twice cooked eggplant in spicy ginger sauce, and a small serving of coconut cauliflower rice. Then I added some ingredients I had made on Sunday and earmarked specifically for lunches. The eggplant was chopped and mixed with steamed kale and a small spoonful of spicy peanut sauce, while the cauliflower rice got a protein boost from a cupful of chickpeas. I finished it all off with a black plum (I keep thinking stone fruit season is about to end, but the market delivered these as the latest delicious proof of my wrongness).

How did it all go down? The cauliflower rice and chickpeas were good, but would have been better served at room temperature rather than very recently removed from the fridge. Something to remember for another day, right? On the other side of the box, the eggplant and kale mixture was fantastic, perfect for eating cold. I can definitely see the eggplant becoming a lunchtime star in the future, with the potential to dress up all manner of plainer vegetables and elevate salads to a whole new level.

And now, I’m off to pack up tomorrow’s lunch. Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot!

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