I’m glad that my work involves me being out of an office, traveling to care for people in their homes. However, it makes packing a work lunch difficult. I like taking leftovers for lunch and, well, I haven’t yet found a microwave for my car. Sandwiches are an option but I’m picky about a good sandwich, and I get tired of taking the same sandwich day after day. I am not above eating a bagel and soup at Tim Horton’s and I have a few favorite, good lunch spots when I am near civilization. If there’s nothing good to take from home, and I’m in the middle of nowhere, and I find myself desperately hungry at the lunch hour, often the only thing I’m close to is a gas station. I sigh, and buy a bag of Fritos and a packaged sandwich that is past its prime. My workdays are very full and hunting around for food takes too much time. The best option, really, is to pack a lunch that takes a few minutes to eat, is good at room temperature, is not too messy for car eating and is something I’m really looking forward to eating (sometimes I will take something gross, like a PB and J sandwich, and then refuse to eat it). Finding something that fits all those criteria is difficult.
Enter my new cooking muse, Tamar Adler. My sister gave me Tamar’s book “An Everlasting Meal” for Christmas and I have really enjoyed reading it and absorbing Tamar’s cooking philosophy. In her chapter on salads, the following passage caught my eye:
“Salads of grains and beans are light, but filling, and taste clear. They are especially good for taking to work, because they are best dressed ahead of time and allowed to marinate. This salad is a good defense to pitch against the armies of salad stores that surround workplaces like attacking ants, all effective at supplying office workers with bad, expensive salads.”
2 cups cooked rice or lentils (ugh, I do not like the texture of cold rice so I always use lentils. preferably good ones, like French green lentils or black beluga lentils. red lentils fall apart too much)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (I never have this. I have used fresh parsley. or dried oregano. or nothing at all. the vinaigrette provides great flavor)
1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
basic vinaigrette, to taste (do you need her recipe for this? 1 chopped shallot, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 T red wine vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil. I usually use a whole batch of dressing because I like the flavor.)
I usually add chopped celery, for crunch. I am making a batch today and adding roasted beets and sweet potatoes. I am thinking this salad adapts well to lots of additions.
This salad is delicious, easy to pack in the morning (mornings are always hectic!) and easy to eat in a 5 to 10 minute lunch break in my car. I usually bring yogurt, an apple and a clementine to round out the meal. So far I haven’t gotten bored of it. There you have it–a delicious, nutritious lunch for someone who is on the road most of the day.