Monday, 27 October 2014

The Packed Lunch

After a year of part time work I am finally back full time again. And this means that the packed lunch has become a really important issue again - especially as I'm now based in a business park in Wath Upon Dearne - popping out for a Street Food Chef really isn't on the cards any more. 

So, this month has been about getting my packed lunch on! I need things that can be knocked up quite quickly and don't require any warming up. And, although I do like the odd sandwich, I wouldn't want one every day! So I've been looking at salads, pastas and the like and here are a few of the things I've been lunching on this month.

Rice salad

I've been making variations of rice salads for a long time now, but I think I nailed the best combo this month. 

Cold rice was mixed with kidney beans, chickpeas, sweetcorn, spring onions, red pepper, black olives, sundried tomatoes, chargrilled aubergine and courgette slices (out of a jar), coriander, mint, parsley and chunks of cheese. Yes, there are a fair few ingredients, but it was very easy to put together, and it tasted great!

I also like cold rice served with kidney beans, chunks of cheese and a simple salsa of tomatoes, chilli, onion and coriander. Just make sure you stick plenty of chilli in there to ensure it gets your lips tingling!

Mackerel/tuna salad

Potatoes, green beans and smoked mackerel or tinned tuna is a great combination. And, with a few salad leaves, it's a healthy and filling lunch.

Although it works best with fresh vegetables, I have been known to use tinned potatoes and green beans. Ok, not my finest hour, but incredibly cheap!

Egg, avocado and potato salad
I know it's probably a bit seventies but I think there's something a little luxurious about adding an egg to a salad - it easily turns a bunch of green stuff into a meal. Go a couple of steps further and add half an avocado and some baby potatoes and you're dining like a king (ish).

When making this lunch, I tend to stick in whatever I have in the fridge - salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, spring onions, sweetcorn, green beans - they all work well.

Aubergine, Tomatoes and Chickpeas

This is a simple HFW recipe from Three Good Things. Basically, aubergine, tomatoes and chickpeas are thrown into the oven with cinnamon sticks and chilli flakes. This is lovely warm, but perfectly acceptable cool come lunch time. 

Roasted Veg Salad

This is a bit of a go to dish for me - for both lunches and teas. I just roast veg for about 40 minutes with garlic, chilli, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I usually use aubergines, peppers, courgettes and tomatoes, but I sometimes add mushrooms, potatoes and/or parsnips too - it really does just depend on what's in my fridge at the time.

I like to have this with a chunk of Stilton, some mozzarella or cottage cheese - lovely!

Pasta with Pesto
Easy peasy, especially as I cheat and use pesto from a jar. I like to add halved cherry tomatoes and sliced black olives too.

Smoked Mackerel and Watercress Sandwich
As I said, I couldn't eat sandwiches every day, but I do like a one once in a while.  And this is a really good combination - the peppery watercress works really well with the rich and oily mackerel. I like to use granary bread and lots of mayo for this one.

I don't think I've done too badly, do you? But there is always room for improvement and here are a few tips I received through Twitter...

Bento Box with both savoury and sweet sections - fruit, veggies, rice, potato salad, mini sandwiches, biscuits, iced gems and nibbles - @GillCodd

Tapas Box with bits of leftover cheese, meats and salad - @MashtunAndMeow

Smoked mackerel pate with oatcakes and a cherry tomato, avocado and coriander salad - @Penny2304 

A bulgar wheat salad - @NibblyPig

What about you? What are your favourite midweek lunches?


  1. In the summer, a homemade Gazpacho from fresh ingredients can be amazing. Totally different to most people's preconceptions.
    I hated quiche for 30+ years of life, but having had one in France done correctly that astounded me, it is another dish I realise can be totally different when done fresh and properly.
    Other things you could do are pies, pasties, Jamaican patties or Empanadas
    Som Tam as another salad, and then something as simple as a Ploughmans or European Charcuterie/Cheeseboard/Rillets and pickles platter. Finally, you could make your own sushi (veg/egg for ease), another cold lunch street food that has been adopted beyond it's humble beginnings.

  2. Mmmm - anonymous - you are talking my language!! Quiche is a great one - and I do love a good gazpacho.