Posts tagged ‘Lunchbox’

Fiesta Macaroni Bean Salad

IMG_8341We had friends over for dinner last night, and we decided to mark the closing of summer with all of our favourite summer foods. Baked beans were there, along with corn on the cob, and rosemary roasted potatoes shared the oven (and our plates) with fabulously simple roasted asparagus – but this pasta salad was the star of the show.

I love it because it has the creaminess of a mayonnaise-based pasta salad, without either the flavour or the texture of the mayo taking over the dish. The whole wheat pasta, along with generous portions of beans and veggies, add texture and flavour that is sometimes lacking in pasta salads.

I should be up front with you, though: this recipe is not mine. It comes to you (only very slightly modified) from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer (who also co-wrote How it All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan, the books that taught me how to cook and how to be vegan. I still use a lot of those lessons, even as I’ve added some dairy and the occasional egg back into my diet). All three cookbooks are favourites of mine; worth checking out both for their basic recipes and for their more elaborate dishes (like this one). My only complaint is the portion estimation. Every recipe in La Dolce Vegan claims to make “2 large or 4 small servings.” While the recipes vary, I find that most make 6 – 8 servings, but maybe that’s just me.

Fiesta Macaroni Bean Salad

3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta (macaroni or fusilli work well)
6 cups water
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 large carrot, grated or diced (about ½ cup)
1 small bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cups kidney beans or pinto beans (or 1 – 19oz. can, drained)
1 cup corn kernels
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup mayonnaise (I really like vegan Vegenaise)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, or to taste
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. In a large pot, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, 6 – 8 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil to avoid sticking. Set aside to cool.
  2. When the pasta is completely cool, toss it together with all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for a few hours first. Keeps well for a few days in the fridge.
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September 12, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Lentil-Tahini Salad with Radicchio

img_6509If your holidays were anything like mine, then you’re probably looking for a fresh, healthy and hearty antidote to all of the season’s delicious but 0h-so-rich treats. This salad is just the thing. Crisp, fresh vegetables mingle with peppery lentils and sharp feta, all tossed together in a creamy, mellow tahini-balsamic dressing. And – it was all very easy (and pretty cheap) to make!

For those of you unfamiliar with it, tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds, not unlike peanut butter but creamier and with a strong sesame flavor. It’s one of the main ingredients in hummus and this hummus recipe may be a good way to use up the rest of the jar, if you buy it just to make this salad.

If you can’t find radicchio, simple purple cabbage would work just as well.

Lentil Tahini Salad with Radicchio
Serves 4 – 6 as a main course, 8 – 10 as a side dish

1 cup brown lentils (about 2 cups when cooked)
3 cups water
2½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1½ cup cucumber, cut into ½” dice
¾ cup red onion, finely sliced
1 bunch (2 cups) parsley, finely chopped (will reduce to about 1 cup when chopped)
1 small head radicchio, sliced (about 4 cups)
½ – 1 cup feta cheese (preferably sheep’s or goat’s milk), crumbled
1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. tahini
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste

  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and add lentils. Boil 20 minutes or until cooked but not mushy. Drain. Do not add salt to the water, or the lentils will not cook through. Salt (and salty foods, like canned tomatoes, toughen lentils and beans and prevent them from cooking).
  2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and crumble the feta. Combine with lentils in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, oil, tahini and pepper and mix well.
  4. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Serve. (If you are going to take this to work all week, reserve the dressing and add it in the morning to each serving. The salad will hold its own for a few hours, but may get soggy if it sits in the fridge all week with the dressing on it.)

January 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

Curry Tofu Sandwiches with Cilantro Bean Spread

img_64961A friend emailed me awhile ago asking for recipes that she could take to work. I’ve been on the lookout for such recipes myself and the result has generally been hearty salads (like this or this or this) and sandwiches. To make your searching easier, I’ve added “Lunchbox” as a tag on this site. This category includes hearty, one-dish meals that are easily transportable, (usually) don’t need to be reheated, and make enough to last at least most of the week.

For me, the perfect sandwich is one that tastes great, won’t get soggy, and packs a lot of make ahead ingredients that I can slap together in a hurry before heading out the door. This sandwich meets all criteria. Placing the tomatoes between the tofu and cheese will prevent them from making your bread soggy (and thickly spread beans and chutney help, too, even if you omit the cheese). Plus, the bean spread and tofu can be made ahead of time so that you have quick lunches all week.

This recipe pulls together a few recipes from elsewhere, including a bean spread modified from an old edition of Vegetarian Times. I also used the Curried Tofu recipe from Veganomicon but you can use any premade baked tofu if you prefer (Pete’s “Thai Tango” would be especially good), or just chase 16 slices of extra firm tofu around a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic and a few tablespoons of curry powder. I’d love to hear about your variations.

Curry Tofu Sandwiches with Cilantro Bean Spread
Makes 8 Sandwiches

1 recipe cilantro bean spread, below (3 Tbsp. per sandwich)
2 – 8oz. packages baked tofu, cut into 16 slices (2 slices per sandwich)
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced (½ tomato per sandwich)
1 cup mango chutney (2 Tbsp. per sandwich)
8 slices sharp cheddar cheese, optional
16 slices good quality, whole grain bread

  1. Spread one slice of bread with bean spread and one slice with chutney.
  2. Layer cheese (if using), tomatoes, and tofu on the beany side and then close the bread with the chutney side. (The bean spread offers the best sogginess protection if you are omitting the cheese).
  3. Enjoy!

img_64891Cilantro Bean Dip
Makes 1¾ cups

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 scallions (green onions), white, light green and dark green parts, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup white cannellini beans or other white beans
1½ Tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. cumin

  1. In a small pan, heat 1 tsp. of olive oil and saute garlic and jalapeno until garlic is translucent. Add scallions and saute until bright green and browning on the edges, being careful not to burn them.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

P.S. This recipe produces a thick consistency best suited to a spread. If you want a dip instead, add 1 cup of plain yogurt (soy if you prefer) and eat it with crackers, chips and/or veggies.

December 15, 2008 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

Hearty Couscous Summer Salad

Tabbouleh (or Tabouli) is one of our favourite main course salads, and over the years we have modified the recipe out of recognition. This latest rendition is more of a couscous salad, with lots of veggies and parsley, and chickpeas for protein. This recipe makes plenty for two people to eat for dinner and then take for lunch for a couple of days. This is a perfect dish for hot summer days when it is too hot to cook, but you want something to fill you up.

This recipe calls for quick-cooking couscous. Most of the couscous sold in North America is quick cooking, but it’s often not labeled as such. So if you have couscous, it will probably do. You can make this dish gluten free by using quinoa instead.

Hearty Couscous Summer Salad
Makes 6 large servings

1¼ cups quick-cooking couscous
1½ cups boiling water
2 cups cucumber, diced (about ½ cucumber)
1½ cups red onion, finely diced (about ½ red onion)
2 cups bell peppers, diced (about 1½ bell peppers)
1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 2 cups)
6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 cups chickpeas
½ cup goat feta, crumbled (optional)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. Sriracha, or other hot sauce
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

  1. Place couscous in a large Pyrex bowl or pot (something that is safe for boiling water). Pour boiling water over the couscous, and cover with an inverted plate to keep in the steam. Let sit for 10 minutes (or until water is absorbed) and then fluff with a fork. OR: Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add couscous and cover, cooking about 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Transfer couscous to a large mixing bowl. Add other ingredients and mix until well combined. Enjoy!

August 4, 2008 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

Bryna’s Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

When I first started this blog, my friend Bryna emailed to ask whether I would be open to having occasional guest posts based on friends’ recipes. I sent back an enthusiastic “yes!” and she sent me this fantastic recipe for quinoa salad (as well as one for pomegranate pilaf that you will have to wait for until pomegranates come back into season in the winter). Says Bryna, “This is my best summer potluck dish. (And it’s quick/easy to make.)” I reduced the dressing from Bryna’s original recipe, but included both amounts so that you can decide how much dressing you want.

For those of you who may be wondering, quinoa is a grain (actually a seed) that is similar in texture to couscous, but often fluffier. It is gluten free and high in protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It is extremely easy to make, but needs to be rinsed before cooking for optimal results.

Bryna’s Quinoa Salad
Makes 2 – 4 servings

1¾ cups water
1 cup quinoa
½ cup cucumber, diced
4 green onions, sliced (about ½ cup)
½ cup corn
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 – 3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
½ – 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. honey

  1. Put the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked.
  2. Put the quinoa in a bowl and add the cucumber, green onions, corn and cilantro.
  3. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, honey and oils. Pour dressing over the salad.
  4. Stir and Enjoy!

July 1, 2008 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

Greek Salad for Company

Greek Salad for CompanyI have always have a problem with greek salad recipes, because they always make such a large amount and are hard to modify since the quantities are generally “1 cucumber” rather than “1 cup cucumber.” So, this recipe makes a very large amount but I’ve tried to make it easier to modify by including metric measurements. If you want a smaller recipe, check out this post. This is fantastic for taking to work for lunch during the week with a pita.

Greek Salad
Makes 4 large or 8 small servings

2 bell peppers (2 cups), assorted colours, chopped
1 red onion (¾ cup), chopped
1 cucumber (2 cups), chopped
4 Roma tomatoes (3 cups), chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
6 oz. (1½ cups) goat feta, cubed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1½ tsp. dried basil (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
1½ tsp. dried oregano (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
1 Tbsp. fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Chop the vegetables and feta. Toss together.
  2. Toss in oil, vinegar and herbs.

June 26, 2008 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Potato and Green Bean SaladThis is a classic recipe that I found years ago (in an old Vegetarian Times magazine?) and have modified a million times since (generally making it simpler and simpler). This is the more or less final version. It’s perfect for picnics, BBQs, potlucks and even taking to work for lunch. I found some delightfully small potatoes at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market (check out Riverbend Gardens for the most flavourful potatoes you’ve ever tried), but if you can only find regular sized new potatoes, you will have to halve or quarter them. This recipe requires freshly ground black pepper. It just won’t be as good with pre-ground pepper.

Green Bean and Potato Salad

6 cups (4 lbs) new potatoes
3 cups (1 lb) green beans
1 cup (4 oz.) feta, finely crumbled
1½ Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  1. Halve or quarter the potatoes if necessary. Steam or boil the potatoes until they are tender but still holding together, about 25 minutes for steaming.
  2. Trim the green beans and cut them into 1-inch strips. Blanch them by putting them into boiling water for 5 minutes or steaming them for 10 minutes.
  3. When the vegetables have cooked, drain them and run them under cold water. Let them cool for about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the dill and crumble the feta. Toss the potatoes, green beans, dill, feta and pepper. If the salad needs more moisture to make the ingredients stick, add the olive oil and toss again.

June 25, 2008 at 9:27 am 6 comments


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*All entries tagged "vegan" and "gluten free" meet those dietary requirements to the best of my knowledge as long as the vegan or gluten free instructions are followed (where applicable). It is always wise to double-check ingredients (especially when dealing with packaged foods) and to confirm ingredients and preparation methods at restaurants.