I don’t know about you but I am a total fail when it comes to eating a proper lunch on a regular basis. I eat a decent breakfast every morning and since I cook dinner almost every night, I’m covered there. But lunch? For some reason I can never seem to justify the time it takes to prepare a nice meal for myself – much less sitting down and taking the time to eat it.
Since Noah’s arrival 2 1/2 years ago lunch has become even more of a challenge. I’m now usually busy feeding him his lunch, and when he goes in for his nap I find myself racing to get started on any of the many tasks and projects vying for my attention.
If I have the fixings on hand, my mom is always happy to make me her delicious tuna salad – which I love because she usually makes enough to last for a few days. But other than that I find myself either picking at whatever Noah didn’t finish (fish sticks anyone?) or grabbing a handful of cereal or a protein bar.
I would love to have a broader range of lunches (other than turkey on whole wheat) that take minimal fussing and time to prepare, can be stretched over 2-3 days and contain a nice mix of protein and veggies. So this is an official “shout out” for your best lunch suggestions – I will happily post them here!
I’ll get us started with one of my favorite (and, truth be told, one of my only) lunchtime recipes……………
adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food
1/2-3/4 c. chickpeas*
1 c. cherry or teardrop tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 c. feta, diced
1 t. dried oregano or 1 T. fresh, chopped
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain. In a medium bowl combine chickpeas with tomatoes, feta and oregano. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil; toss gently to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
* Until recently I had never used dried beans. It seemed like such a process – the soaking, the hours of cooking – easier to just buy a can, rinse and drain. And then on my recent trip to Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg I met Erica Wilder of The Brooklyn Bean Co. Erica is friends with my friend Jen, who knew I was going and suggested I stop by and say hello. I was immediately taken with the beautiful array of dried beans and peas, artfully displayed in large burlap bags. Erica and her partner (in life and in business) Will were so nice that I felt obliged to make a purchase – even though I knew nothing about using dried beans.
I quickly scanned the selection and noticed that they had garbanzo beans, a.k.a., chick peas. Chick peas! I love chick peas and was thrilled to take a bag home. Erica gave me some tips on how to prepare them and after a quick search on the web I was ready to go. It was much easier than I thought and not nearly the hassle I envisioned. Yes, there are many hours involved in soaking and cooking the beans but almost all of them require minimal or no attention on your part. Best of all? My efforts yielded quite a large batch of beans that I portioned off into cup-size servings and froze in ziploc bags. A rinse under some warm tap water thaws them out quickly and they’re ready to use.
In addition to feeling all frugal and domestic for soaking and cooking my own beans, I will tell you that their flavor and texture were beyond superior to the canned variety. They were absolutely delicious and substantially improved the taste of this salad. I can’t wait to use them in some homemade hummus or roast them for a quick snack with drinks.
Here’s how to do it:
Rinse the beans under cold water – drain and place in a bowl large enough to hold the beans plus water to cover by 3 inches. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Drain the beans and place in a pot with fresh water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. You want the beans to be thoroughly cooked but not mushy. Drain, cool and use right away or freeze in individual portions for up to 6 months.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver