It’s back to school and routine at the office for most everyone. Homemade lunches are often the most nutritious and economical. Here are my Tasty Tips for lunches to go:
Use a bento box with lidded compartments for each component. Write or post a name label on the side (for the office as well as school.)
To pack apple slices: Core and slice an apple, then reform the slices into the original shape, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and tuck into the lunch box.
For grapes, strawberries, blueberries, wash and pat the fruit dry. Place in zip lock snack bag or compartment of the box.
Keep lunch cool with a partially frozen eight-ounce bottle of water, wrap with a paper towel and zip it into a plastic bag. Pack it next to the food.
Tuna salad doesn’t have to be boring, try this recipe without mayonnaise. The secret ingredient is confit of garlic.
For the healthy “vegan for lunch” eaters, make Veggie Whole Wheat Pita Pockets or Open Faced Caprese Sandwiches. The open-faced Caprese Sandwich is easier to eat while sitting at the table with colleagues, while the pita pockets are good for “working at my desk” lunch!
Here’s a treat for high protein eaters, lean dried beef (found at German or up-scale deli counters) with lettuce, tomato, and onion on protein bread! (Word of caution, dried beef from a jar on the grocery shelf is very salty, not the same as the dried beef from the deli counter, request paper-thin slices of the dried beef.) Or smoked turkey is an excellent substitute for the beef.
The following sandwich ideas are meant to spark your imagination in order for you to create your own unique sandwich for a September lunch. Bon appetit!
Tuna Salad Sandwich (Grown Ups And School Kids)(Serves 2 to 3)1, 7-ounce can oil packed tuna, flaked, preferably Italian
1, 7-ounce can water packed tuna, drained and flaked
About 3 tablespoons capers, drained
About 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
8 whole cloves of garlic confit (recipe follows)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste (1 to 2 tablespoons)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Romaine lettuce leaves
2 slices whole grained bread per sandwich
Options: for the grade school set:
Replace capers with drained sweet pickle relish
Replace garlic with minced scallions
Add a tablespoon of good quality mayonnaise to the saladTo prepare:Drain the water packed tuna and with a table fork, flake it into a mixing bowl. Add oil packed tuna, and blend together. Add capers, parsley, confit of garlic, and mix well. Add lemon juice, pepper and taste. Adjust the seasonings according to personal preferences.
Cover and refrigerate allowing the flavors to develop.
For the lunch at the office: Pack tuna in a container, and romaine lettuce leaves in plastic bag and fill the lettuce leaf with tuna salad. Or place lettuce on a slice of bread; add tuna salad, top with a lettuce leaf and then bread. (Lettuce protects the bread from becoming soggy.) Cut into quarters and tuck sandwich into a zip lock sandwich bag.
For grade school lunch: Stuff mini pita pockets with tuna salad. Add a carrot coins in a plastic bag.
To make Garlic Confit: Peel one head garlic; add the whole cloves to a small saucepan set over moderate heat. Add enough avocado or extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 cup) as needed to completely cover the garlic. Cover and cook until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Adjust the heat and slow simmer until the garlic is soft, tender, and tastes sweet, about 20 minutes. (Do not boil or allow the garlic to become brown or it will taste bitter.) Set the pan off the heat, cool to room temperature, transfer garlic and oil to a clean glass jar, cover, and refrigerate. Store in refrigerator for up to four months.
Veggie Whole Wheat Pita Pockets (Makes 4 sandwiches)4 whole wheat pita pockets
8 to 9 slices ripe, firm, red beefsteak tomatoes
8 thin slices medium red onion, halved
About 1 cup baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/3 cup hummus (your favorite brand or homemade)Advance preparation for a pita pocket:Cut the pita pocket in half and stuff into a zip-lock plastic sandwich bag.
Core and halve a tomato, place the cut side down on a cutting board and cut into one-quarter-inch thick slices. Wrap two slices for each half of the pocket in plastic wrap and slip them into a zip lock bag for extra insurance. Likewise, cut the onion into very thin slices, wrap in plastic and slip them into the bag with the tomato. Stuff the arugula into a separate plastic bag. Fill a small plastic container with hummus and securely seal the lid. Assemble the pockets just before eating.
Open Faced Caprese Sandwich One serving (can be scaled up in direct proportions)1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
Fine quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 or 2 slices of whole milk mozzarella, about 1/2-inch thick (cut to fit the bread)
3 to 4 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large basil leaves or more to tasteTo prepare:Prepare the cheese, tomatoes, and basil. Toast the bread, drizzle olive oil on the bread, then top with mozzarella (preferably while the bread is still warm) drizzle a few drops of oil on the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes, cut side down on the cheese and top with basil leaves. Cut the toast in half and serve at once.
Dried Beef, Red Onion, Yellow Tomato Sandwich(Makes 4 sandwiches)8 slices of protein bread (or your favorite dark European bread) toasted
Dijon mustard with horseradish
24 to 30 paper-thin slices dried beef, about 6 per sandwich
8 thin slices red onion, 2 per sandwich
4 slices yellow tomato, 1 per sandwich
4 Boston, butter or romaine lettuce leaves or more as neededTo prepare:Smear a thin layer of mustard on the toast; add about 6 slices of dried beef (the amount will depend on personal preference and thickness of the slices). Arrange onion and tomato on top of the beef, add lettuce and top with slice of bread. Cut in half diagonally, and tuck into a zip lock bag.
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