I love sharing my favorite recipes with all of you – particularly when I know that they will make your lives easier, brighter and healthier. I'm not a trained chef but I cook - a lot - and when I find things that work well and please many audiences, I like to pass them on. These are five of my favorite recipes for weekday lunches. Each dish is easy to prepare the night before, travels well and is the perfect balance of flavorful and healthy to get you over the midday hump at work.
Blackberry, Grain & Arugula Salad
I love this salad – the berries and mint make it refreshing, grains give it texture and volume and the dressing is absolutely divine. Inspired by a recipe from Elizabeth Stein’s book Eating Purely (which I highly recommend – talk about a book chock full of delicious, healthy and EASY options!). If you have the time to make wheatberry (which takes about 50 on the stove - although you can leave it simmering and do other things), I’d recommend using that as it has a nice meaty bite to it.
4 cups arugula
¼ red onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin
½ cup feta or goat cheese (or skip if you’re going dairy-free)
¼ cup pistachios
1 ½ cups of a grain like quinoa, wheatberry or farro
½ cup blackberries
½ cup blackberries
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Cook grains according to instructions on the package and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, assemble main ingredients. In a food processor, combine dressing ingredients and whir til smooth. Toss with salad ingredients and dressing.
Layered Caprese Salad in a Jar
I will never, ever tire of a Caprese salad: especially in summertime when tomatoes are particularly fresh and I can get my hands on heirloom varieties in beautiful colors. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find good tomatoes year-round these days. I like to stack thin layers of mozzarella, tomatoes, red onion, basil and avocado then slide the stack into a mason jar, drizzle with thick balsamic vinegar and olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. If you’re making this to bring to work, pack a whole avocado and slice before eating so it doesn’t get brown and mushy.
Greek Orzo or Quinoa Salad
I grew up on Greek salad. As some of you know, my mother (who is incredibly talented at most things) happens to not be a particularly enthusiastic home cook, and as a result, we ordered in a lot growing up. Her default lunch order was a Greek salad from this hole-in-the-wall pizza and gyro joint in a shopping plaza near our school and fortunately for her, my brother and I loved it just as much as she did. To this day, whenever I visit, there’s almost always a half-eaten Greek salad in mom’s fridge.
I often find myself craving the flavors of that Americanized Greek salad but I can’t quite justify a salad that is built on iceberg and pita bread so I’ve modified it a bit. This salad keeps in the fridge for a week and is delicious at any temperature. Add chicken or shrimp to beef it up.
4 cups arugula
2 cups grains (quinoa or farro) or orzo pasta
1 cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup red onion, diced
½ cup pepperoncini, chopped
1 cup feta cheese crumbles
Dressing (I never measure so this is approximate – eyeball to make sure you’ll have enough)
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups EVOO
1 tsp dried oregano (optional – I hate oregano but other people love it)
Cook grains or pasta according to package directions and set aside to cool. Whir the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Prepare all cold ingredients then toss together in a large bowl with dressing.
Arugula Salad with Stilton, Prosciutto, Pears & Pickled Red Onion
I made this up a while back based on what I had available in the house and it turned into one of my favorite lunches of all time. I get a good handful or two of arugula and stuff it in some Tupperware, sprinkle with a good stilton or gorgonzola cheese, spread sliced pears and top with marinated onions. In a separate baggie I pack a few pieces of prosciutto nicely crisped in the oven (ten mins at 350 on aluminum foil-lined baking sheet) and crumble those on top of the salad just before serving. This salad is delicious with a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
This is another dish adapted from Eating Purely by Elizabeth Stein. It’s vegan and gluten-free but is so flavorful and filling it doesn’t taste like it could possibly be this healthy! This makes a great lunch for work or the beach because it’s just as delicious cold or room temperature.
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 ¼ cups seedless green grapes
¼ cups blanched almonds
¼ cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tblsp flaxseed
1 tsp sea salt
Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. The texture is creamy with a little graininess from the flax seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add more vinegar if you like extra zip. I like to top with chives and sliced tomatoes.
Would love to know what you guys think of these recipes! And please pass on any good lunch finds you've come across - we're always looking to expand our weekly menu!