Tag Archives: lunch

Sesame kale salad

I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately. Really, since January, when the market started tempting me with rock bottom prices on massive bags of mixed greens. Those went out of vogue and I moved onto un-green salads, mixing up ingredients like lentil sprouts, roasted vegetables (no need to bother with dressing!), and copious amounts of cucumber and tomato (especially as proper tomato season has started again. I ate a cherry tomato from our patio garden this week and wondered why I had let myself slip back to buying those sad, sad romas over the winter). My current love is darker greens, like today’s salad.

One of the challenges with packing a salad is keeping the greens from getting soggy, slimy, and generally unappetizing. The common trick is, of course, to keep your greens dry: invest in a salad spinner, and don’t add dressing until you are ready to eat. Another option is going with a sturdier green. Kale is a great base for a lunch salad–you can massage the dressing into the greens and assemble the salad completely the night before, then pack it up and add a piece of fruit for a perfect grab and go lunch the next morning:


You can see I like to add a boiled egg sometimes also to make it more of a stand-alone meal.

Earlier this year, there was a lot in the news about kale being a goitrogenic food. The goitrogenic properties of kale are particularly high when kale is raw, so I will add the caveat that I’m not planning on eating this salad daily all summer (delicious as it is, I’m sure I’d tire of it eventually at that frequency!). I will also add that you can make a very nice warm salad with lightly cooked (and thus presumably less goitrogenic) kale by mixing everything except the onion and microwaving for 30-60 seconds. Then add the onion back in.

If you are going to make this recipe as a salad for packed lunches, my suggestion is to prep all the ingredients on Sunday afternoon: make the dressing, chop and measure everything else. Then assemble individual salads as needed. I’ve put the amount of ingredients needed for the full four servings below, but also included the amount needed for a single serving in parentheses, to facilitate night-by-night assembly.

Sesame Kale Salad
Serves 4

For the dressing
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp tamari sauce
splash of balsamic vinegar

For the salad
1 batch (2 tbsp) sesame dressing
1 lb (4 oz) kale, sliced into thin strips
1/2 (a few slices) red onion, sliced thin
3 c. (3/4 c.) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. (1 tbsp) chopped walnuts
4 (1) tsp. sesame seeds
Optional: 4 (1) hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1. Mix dressing ingredients together in a bottle or jar and shake to combine.

2. Place kale in a bowl and add dressing. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. You want to really squeeze and soften the kale, don’t be timid.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, toss, and serve. Salad can be refrigerated overnight if needed.

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Grown up lunch: oasis

Lately I’ve been traveling a lot for work, which means a break from my usual foods and eating routine. My business trips are generally to fairly remote areas, so the offerings can be pretty hit or miss. I usually pack a few rations like apples, oranges, carrots, and nuts, then do my best with whatever else is available. When I get back from (or am in between) travel, I like to keep things simple and try to do a sort of mini-detox, focusing on getting plenty of protein (which is probably the hardest thing to do on the road as a mostly-vegetarian) and vegetables.

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I threw together this lunch as a little oasis of good healthy eating in the midst of it all: the last of a batch of cauliflower rice pilaf, topped with a pair of hard-boiled eggs. I’ve been loving hard-boiled eggs lately as an easy and portable meal addition. As a former egg-hater, it’s taken me a while to figure out the trick to peeling them without losing half the whites. I found this post on stone soup that mentioned adding a pinch of baking soda to the boiling water. Then I found some more instructions at Willow Bird baking that advised making lots of cracks in the shell before peeling. I’ve been trying both of these techniques with much improved success. Though to make your cracks, be sure to tap gently. Every time I’ve tried crunching down harder, I’ve cracked the whites wide open. In fact, you can see I tried it here on one of the eggs, and was rewarded for my non-pains with a yolk that was falling right out of the whites. Oops.

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!

What I ate: weekend lunch-ing

This past weekend was a pretty homebound one for me. Mr. C&V was working, and I had a big craft project I wanted to make some headway on. I spent most of Saturday immersed in yarn, but I did manage to come up for air sometime mid-afternoon to eat:

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Continue reading What I ate: weekend lunch-ing

Recipe: Quinoa Garden Salad

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I recently realized how dependent I had become on hot lunches when our office microwave decided to stop working. It was replaced the next day, but I had already started to panic and think about cold lunch possibilities. Desperate to avoid a boring sandwich (or, more likely, a container of plain carrots and a handful of nuts–aka, recipe for afternoon hunger pangs), I came up with this quinoa salad and went microwave free for most of the next week.
 
With a mix of protein, good fats, and fiber, this salad makes a full meal on its own, so it was easy and compact to bring into the office. It’s also tasty enough that when we unexpectedly had a catered lunch at work, I opted to go ahead and eat my salad instead because it really is was that good.
 
The pesto dressing for this salad is intended to be fairly light and subtle. I’ve never been a huge dressing person, but if you feel you need a little more coating, feel free to add an extra teaspoon of oil.
 
Finally, while I designed this salad to be eaten cold or at room temperature, I discovered that zapping it for thirty seconds or a minute in the microwave so that it’s just warm is really tasty. So much for curing my hot lunch dependence.
 
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Summer Quinoa Salad
makes 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
2 c. cooked quinoa (about 1 c. dry, I cooked mine using 1 c. of water and 1 c. of vegetable broth for extra flavor)
6 oz. green beans, ends removed and cut into approximately 1″ sections
6 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. feta cheese, cut into approx 1/2″ chunks
 
For the pesto dressing:
1/2 c. fresh basil
1/4 c. walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
 
Method
1. Blanch the green beans as follows: Bring a pot filled with 2″ of water to a boil, add green beans, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. While beans cook, fill a bowl or second pot with very cold water (ice water is best). When the 3 minutes are up, drain the hot water from the green beans and immediately transfer beans to the cold water bath.
 
2. Make the pesto dressing: in a food processor, combine the walnuts, basil, and olive oil, and process together until a paste-like consistency has been achieved.
 
3. Place the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Add the pesto dressing and stir to combine.
 
4. Add the tomatoes, green beans, and feta. Stir again to combine.
 
Can be eaten immediately, or stored in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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