Elevating The Mid-day Meal
Are you familiar with the “sad desk lunch”? Wherever your metaphorical desk may be, you are likely to have suffered through a sad desk lunch at one time or another. You know – dry or soggy sandwiches, mushy leftovers, or a desperate collection of random foods that you hope will magically become a meal. Why does lunch get no respect? We know that it’s important to eat a good lunch, thereby avoiding the temptation of the 3:00 p.m. cookie. But we’re busy and often willing to cut corners. I feel like Allison Day feels our pain, and wants to help.
Modern Lunch is an excellent cookbook. I love it when a book fills a gap that I didn’t even know existed. Allison Day is a Canadian living in London, an award-winning blogger and cookbook writer. The book is divided into chapters to cover different lunch needs, e.g. lunch to go, lunch at home, sharing lunch on the weekend and special lunches. The recipes are firmly plant-based, not vegetarian but easily made so. Most of the recipes serve 4, and will last in the fridge for a few days.
So many of the recipes looked good to me that I tried a bunch. As a bonus, I made many of the recipes with stuff that was already in my fridge/cupboard. Planning does help – it’s easier to add chicken to your salad if you already have cooked chicken. Here are my highlights:
Chicken and Cucumber Salad with Peanut Vinaigrette – chicken + cucumber + quick peanut sauce mixed with fresh mint and green onion on a bed of greens = great lunch. I added quinoa and made my peanut sauce sweeter.
California Lunch Bowl – poached eggs + grains + greens + avocado + shaved fennel. Homemade dukkah (Egyptian condiment made of nuts or seeds and spices) sprinkled on top made the dish.
Walnut-Crusted Avocado, Feta and Eggs. This was my favourite, because it was so different. The base is pesto rice, made with whatever greens or herbs you like. A walnut crumble (used the extra dukkah) is pressed into the avocado. The avo is served with hard-boiled eggs and feta on the rice, with greens if you like. Great flavour and VERY filling.
Mustard Seed Roasted Vegetable, Barley and Bean Salad. Very flexible recipe, I used kale with roasted onion, squash and peppers. Good flavour, transported well.
Honey Bacon and White Bean Mash Toast. Just yum. Fast, much faster if you don’t burn the bacon and have to redo it. Easily vegetarian.
There are some sweets, stapes and snacks. All healthy-ish and reasonably quick and easy to make. Easy to adapt to your tastes – as you know, I always add more salt and acid. If I had one criticism, it is that the recipes take longer than indicated and in many cases assume that you already have some components ready. But with a little planning – poof – your sad desk lunch disappears. Great book.