Friday, December 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Try these sack-lunch recipes for grown-ups

CoopTomatoesW

By
From page A16 | August 21, 2013 |

Working in Downtown Davis means never being hungry at lunch! Sadly, that also means a big lunch bill at the end of the week — at the most modest, even a sandwich, bag of chips and drink will run you $7. Add to that the “expense” in calories, since it’s awfully easy to decide that a turkey-Swiss-Hatch chile panini is just the thing to brighten up your day. (Not that I mean to tempt you with melted cheese — but get ‘em at the Davis Food Co-op while the Hatch chiles are still available.)

The solution, of course, is to bring lunch from home. That doesn’t have to mean a dry sandwich, carrot sticks and grapes, or an extra half hour in your morning routine. A healthy, delicious bag lunch is entirely within your reach. Simple whole grain salads, yummy sandwich fillings and even baked goods are all easily achievable with just a little planning. Spending an hour putting together the ingredients for a great lunch will not only save you money and improve your diet, but you’ll actually end up saving time – after all, you’re not standing in line at a counter, hearing the Cowboy Cookies calling your name!

This salad travels beautifully, and makes a great lunch with the addition of a slice of bread and butter. Or cube the bread and toss it in 5 minutes before serving for an almost instant panzanella. I usually make a big bowl to serve as a side dish for dinner one night, and lunch the next day.

BethAnn’s Inspired Salad

Ingredients:
A double handful of green beans
The same amount of pear or cherry tomatoes
some diced fresh mozzarella
a little vinaigrette dressing
a bit of salt
some crumbled cooked bacon or Bac’un

Putting it together:
Cook the green beans until just tender. Cut the tomatoes in half. Toss everything together except the bacon. Let stand, refrigerated, at least one hour or overnight. Toss in the bacon just before serving. Vegetarian bac’un, the kind sold already crisped, works just fine.

Curried Cucumber Soup

This soup is great for lunch, since you don’t even have to heat it up! It’s relatively low in calories, but high in protein owing to the yogurt. A handful of crackers would be nice on the side, or half a sandwich.

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups plain non-fat yogurt
1-1/4 pounds cucumber
1 garlic clove
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon lemon curry powder

Putting it together:

Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Peel, seed and dice cucumber, and reserve 1/4 cup diced cucumber. Put remaining cucumber and garlic in blender and puree. Stir salt, cumin and curry into drained yogurt. Mix puree, yogurt and reserved cucumber and chill about 2 hours.

Couscous Salad with Corn and Red Bell Pepper

Nothing could be quicker than this salad – just boil water and let the couscous sit while you chop the veg! Vary it with any vegetables you like and have handy. Be sure to use whole wheat couscous – the texture is identical to white, but the protein and fiber are much higher.
Makes 2 generous servings

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup fresh corn (cut from about 2 ears) or frozen
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1-1/4 cups water
1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

Putting it together:

In a heavy skillet heat 1 teaspoon oil and sauté bell pepper until crisp-tender. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in cumin and remove from heat. In vegetable steamer or microwave, steam corn until barely cooked — about 3 minutes.

While vegetables are cooking, in a small heavy saucepan bring water to a boil and stir in couscous and salt to taste. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let couscous stand 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Put remaining teaspoon oil in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar 1 teaspoon at a time until emulsified. Whisk in salt. In a bowl, mix vegetable mixture, couscous, cilantro, and vinegar and toss to combine well. Serve at once, or chill for a salad. Great stuffed inside ripe tomatoes.

Vegetable turnovers are quick to make (especially if you use frozen veg) and freeze well after baking. Eat at room temperature, or warm briefly in the office microwave.

Vegetable Turnovers
makes 4

Ingredients for the dough:
6 tablespoons cold butter
1- 3/4 cup all-purpose baking mix
3/4 cup milk

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup diced cheese
1/3 cup diced onion
1-1/3 cup finely cut vegetables (bell pepper, broccoli or cauliflower in small florets, frozen corn kernels, chopped celery, artichoke hearts, quartered mushrooms, etc.)

Putting it together:
Cut the baking mix into the butter with a fork or pastry blender until it has the texture of fine cornmeal. Add milk and stir.

Turn the dough out onto a floured cloth and divide into 4 parts. Roll out each part into a 7″x5″ rectangle. Let the dough rest while you chop and mix together the filling ingredients.

Put 1/4 of the filling on each dough square. Fold up the long sides, stretching dough as necessary and pinch edges together. Fold the short sides up and use a little water as needed to seal them firmly. Put each dough packet on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving or freezing. Good with a little hot mustard for dipping.

Rice Noodle Salad

This is one of my favorite lunch box salads — it’s delicious and light, but with enough to it to carry me through the day.
makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
8 ounces rice noodles
1 carrot, grated
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 cups shredded lettuce
4 ounces ham cut into thin strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove of garlic, smashed

Putting it together:

Mix soy sauce, olive oil, honey, garlic and vinegar together. Cook noodles according to package direction. Plunge into cold water, then drain. Add vegetables, ham and dressing and mix well. Serve at room temperature or chill.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

If you’re tired of traditional tuna salad, try this more exciting (and less mayonnaise-laden) version. I like it on a sturdy roll to soak up a little bit of the dressing.
Enough for 2-3 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 can tuna, well drained
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup roasted sweet peppers
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey

Putting it together:

Finely chop olives, sweet pepper and onion and stir into tuna. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and honey and stir into tuna mixture.

This is one of our all-time favorite sandwich spreads. You can use Neufchatel in place of the cream cheese if you prefer. You can also add chopped pickled jalapenos for a little more zip!

Confetti Cream Cheese
Enough for 3-4 sandwiches

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese
4-5 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup loose baby spinach leaves, chopped
15 slices canned water chestnut, diced OR 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 carrot, shredded
1 teaspoon lemon juice
dash hot pepper sauce
salt
pepper

Putting it together:

Mix all ingredients together. Good served on flat bread.

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