Tag Archives: lunch

Apple & Cheddar Salad

There has been a lot of rain and gray skies this past week.  The upside: I’m welcoming the arrival of boots-and-sweater weather. The downside: It makes me want to hibernate.

More specifically, it makes me want to EAT ALL THE FOOD.  I have to keep telling myself that it’s not time for my once-a-year Fettuccine Alfredo indulgence. The idea of eating green vegetables is less than exciting, unless they are folded into a casserole of macaroni and cheese.  But vegetables must be eaten.  More exercise must take place, too, but let’s just focus on one thing for right now.

apples1

I committed myself to making a salad today for lunch. I’ve talked before about my special relationship with salads.  I’ve even admitted to being seduced by a salad.  Once again today I was struck by how the process of making a salad makes me feel.  Preparing lunch for myself is different than cooking dinner.  It’s leisurely.  There’s no concern about pleasing anyone else.  This is special Sarah time.  As I was mincing shallots and toasting sliced almonds, I felt like I was engaging in some sort of ritual to take care of myself.  You know in chick flicks when the woman recovers from heartbreak by lighting candles, pouring a glass of wine, and running a bath?  That’s oddly what this felt like.

applesalad1

The foundation of this salad was a mix of spring greens in my fridge that needed to be used, some apple, and good sharp Cheddar.  It didn’t need much beyond that.  I decided to throw some toasted almonds on there for some extra crunch (and fiber and protein).  When it came to the dressing, I whisked together a tiny bit of minced shallots, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar with some olive oil. Seasoned the greens with salt, tossed in the dressing, topped with the sliced apples, coarsely grated Cheddar, and almonds.

applesalad2

So, this is pretty much a standard fruit-nut-cheese salad formula.  You could change out the almonds for walnuts or pumpkin seeds, or the cheddar for blue cheese or Gruyere.  I used Ambrosia apples because that’s what I had on hand, but I think Pink Lady or Honeycrisp (my favorites) would work nicely, too.

 

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Today’s Lunch: Chickpea and Brown Rice Burgers

I’m not usually a big fan of burgers that aren’t made of beef because, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like it when vegetarian foods try to masquerade as meat products.  Do you remember the scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding where Julia Roberts breaks the news to Cameron Diaz? “Creme brulee could never be Jell-O.  You could never be Jell-O.”  Same deal.  Tofu, I hate to break it to you, but you’re never gonna be a burger. Same goes for you, mushrooms.  And you, legumes.

The other part of the dilemma is that the only synonym I can think of is “patty” and I hate the word “patty.”  Why?  I don’t know, but it causes the same cringing as when I hear “hubby.”  Maybe I don’t like words that end in “y”… except I like the word bunny.  And puppy.  Having such a strong negative reaction towards seemingly neutral words is a strange thing.

So, given that it is the lesser of two evils, I see no better option than referring to this recipe as a burger.  But please, do not assume, even for a second, that I am trying to kid myself into believing I’m eating a hamburger.  Nor am I trying to present this to you as an acceptable substitute for a burger.  There is no such thing.  I only use the word burger because it is what most closely resembles what this is.*  (Other than the “p” word, which will no longer be discussed.)

Anyway, the first day of Week Three: introducing gluten-free oats and brown rice back into my diet.  Today’s lunch was a chickpea and brown rice burger.  It took some time to prepare since it calls for cooked rice.  But it makes four, so you can get almost a week’s worth of lunches knocked out  in one sitting.  I also just realized I forgot to mix an egg in with the burgers, as the recipe calls for.  Hm.  Well, I thought it was great without it so if you somehow happen to make the same mistake, don’t freak out.  Or I suppose if you want to make it vegan, it’s good to know you can just leave out the egg.  If you make it and include the egg, tell me how it is.

One more thing.  The original recipe calls for roasted red pepper.  I almost left this off because I’m still not crazy about red peppers, but decided to go for it since part of this cleanse is trying new foods.  In a twist of fate, the roasted red peppers in our fridge looked rather old, so I used some sun-dried tomatoes instead.  Yeah, I know… sun-dried tomatoes are so 1996.  But just like the Spice Girls, in small quantities, sun-dried tomatoes can add a little zest to your meal.

Chickpea & Brown Rice Burger (serves 4, adapted from Whole Living)

2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 minced shallot

1 minced garlic clove

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 egg, whisked (evidently the egg is optional)

2 tbsp olive oil

Mustard

Red onion slices

Sun-dried tomatoes (or roasted red peppers)

Green-leaf lettuce leaves

Mash together chickpeas and brown rice until they form a thick paste.  Stir in shallot, garlic, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the egg (if you’re using it).

Form into four 1/2-inch-thick burgers.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add burgers and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Top burgers with mustard, red onion, and sun-dried tomatoes and wrap in lettuce leaves.

*I had a great metaphor for this: “Like how you might refer to a giant panda as a “bear” if you didn’t know the word panda.  It resembles a bear, but it really isn’t one.”  But then I remembered genetic studies have confirmed that pandas actually are bears.  I sat here for a good 10 minutes trying to come up with another metaphor, but I’m stumped.

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Randomly Discovered Yumminess: Dill Havarti and Radish Sandwiches

I try very, very hard to pack my lunch and avoid buying anything from all the fast food places on campus.  I typically rely on leftovers and whatever happens to be around the kitchen.  On more days than I’d like to admit, though, this means my lunch consists of an apple, carrots, and a Luna bar.  I don’t usually pack sandwiches unless I’m in a peanut butter mood; I don’t eat deli meat other than the rare occasion when I actually find myself in a deli.

But sometimes I’ll have an extra minute to assemble a lunch and have a moment of inspiration for constructing an interesting sandwich from the random ingredients in the fridge.  Like Monday’s sandwich: dill Havarti cheese, sliced radishes, baby lettuce, and a tiny bit of mayo on cracked wheat bread.

It’s good.  That’s pretty much all I have to say about it.

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Pomegranate and Grapefruit Salad

It’s only November and I am already missing summer food.   I was going through a July issue of a magazine and lustfully eying the photos of heirloom tomatoes.  My basil plant is officially dead.  I’ve accepted that I will be eating frozen berries for the next five months, as I refuse to pay $7 for a container of strawberries.

The good news is that we’re entering grapefruit and pomegranate season!  Pomegranates have to be the sexiest of the fruits.  That deep, ruby-red color, the plump, juicy seeds that burst in your mouth…

Well, hello there….

Um, anyway…. Last year I happily discovered the joy of a bowl of grapefruit and pomegranate seeds.  They both have their own unique and delightful burst of juiciness, and the sweetness of the pomegranate is far superior to sprinkling sugar on a grapefruit half (not to mention the stunning color combo).

One out of two cats prefer pomegranate over grapefruit.

I also found that they work well on a salad.  If you happen to have an avocado around, chop it up and throw it in, too.  I wished I had one today when I was eating this for lunch.  I did add some sliced radishes, which contributed some crunch and a nice peppery flavor.

You could make a vinaigrette, but why not just use the grapefruit juice instead of vinegar?  You can use a little olive oil too, but I stuck with just the citrus juice today, and it worked quite fine.

I used baby lettuce, since that’s what I had around, but a mix of baby spinach and mache would be my first choice.

Is it just me, or does this look rather Christmas-y?

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