I’ve been on a mad cooking streak the past two weeks, mainly due to the fact that I LOVE my new cookbook: Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson, only one of the most influential vegetarian food writers around. It can be tricky to keep up the momentum in the kitchen when it gets so hot outside (we’re going on about 50 days straight of 100 degree temps!) but this new crop of recipes is exactly what I was looking for. Among some great soups, breakfast ideas, and inventive snacks, she features simple, five-ingredient, one bowl dishes that can be served hot, cold or room temperature, with great flavor notes and a taste of the exotic. For example, the Black Sesame Otsu gives me a great reason to use up that big bag of black sesame seeds that I spontaneously purchased at the Asian grocery, and Avocados and Mustard Seeds are a welcome change from the usual guacamole. I can’t recommend this book enough!
With some new ideas and recipes to follow, I’ve been bringing lunch to work rather than going out. It’s been a really satisfying way to eat healthy, delicious stuff that I just can’t find when we go out… and definitely not for the same budget! So I’ve decided to compile 10 of my favorites here, making a handy reference for the Sunday morning grocery list slog!
These are pulled from my favorite cookbooks and augmented with a few recipes of my own. All are vegetarian – that was the easiest way for me to pare down and make choices, but also because I don’t like the idea of meat sitting at room temperature, or being microwaved. These will mostly serve two for lunch, or could work for four as a side to dinner. And all of these would make great pot-luck contributions for summer parties!
inspired by Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Boil 1 cup water and add 1/2 cup bulgur wheat. Turn off heat, and let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, chop 1 cup loose parsley, 1/2 cup loose mint, and 15 cherry tomatoes. Let bulgur drain & cool, and combine all ingredients above with 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3 tbsp olive oil, and kosher salt to taste. This is great to let refrigerate overnight.
#2 Broccoli Gribiche
inspired by Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
Toss 12 small fingerling potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp cracked pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Toss 1 cup chopped broccoli with 1 tbsp olive oil & kosher salt and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Make the dressing: mash yolk of hard-cooked egg, and slowly add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, and stir in 1 tbsp capers, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 chopped shallot, and 1 tbsp chopped chives. Combine potatoes, broccoli, and dressing and mix in chopped egg white from the hard cooked egg.
#3 Grilled Peppers & Currants
Roast 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green bell pepper at 450 degrees until skins blacken and are easily peeled off. Remove seeds and set to cool in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, and saute 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tbsp capers, and 1 tbsp chopped parsley for 1 minute. Add to peppers, and garnish with 1 tsp sherry vinegar and 1/4 cup crumbled feta. Best served at room temperature.
#4 Lentil Salad
inspired by Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Cover 1/2 cup lentils with water and 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until tender but still a little firm, 25-30 minutes. Drain lentils and combine with 1 roasted, chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1 tbsp chopped dill, and 1 tsp chopped mint. Make the vinaigrette: mash a small garlic clove with salt, and whisk in 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp diced shallot, 1/2 seeded, diced jalepeno chile, 1/4 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp coriander, 1/8 tsp dry mustard, and 3 tbsp olive oil salt & pepper. Garnish with 2 quartered ripe tomatoes, 1 hard boiled egg, kalamata olives, and 1/2 cucumber, cut into sticks. Serve warm or cold.
#5 Quinoa with Yellow Squash
Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa, then combine with 1 cup boiling water in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat, and let sit 15 minutes. In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and saute 1 chopped yellow squash, 1 chopped ‘sweet 100’ or white onion, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1 tsp cumin, salt & pepper to taste. Let cool a little, then dress with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp chopped cilantro.
#6 Kale Salad with Avocado
Combine 2 large handfuls of chopped curly kale and 1/4 cup roasted salted pepitas in a bowl. Make the dressing: mash 1 clove garlic with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and zest from 1 lime. Whisk in juice from 1/2 lime (1 tbsp), 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp walnut oil; season with cracked pepper. With your hands (be prepared to get messy!) mix the dressing into the kale mixture, working to break up and wilt the kale a little. Add 15 pitted nicoise olives, a crumbling of sheep’s milk feta, and 1 sliced avocado.
#7 Black Bean Salad
inspired by Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
Slice 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes in halves and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp white sugar, and 1/4 tsp fine sea salt. Roast at 350 degrees for 50 minutes until caramelized.
Toss 2 cups cooked black beans with the roasted cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup toasted salted pepitas, zest from one lemon and 2 tsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt. Sprinkle with feta cheese to serve.
#8 Green Tea Soba with Asparagus & Peas
Boil 1 bunch green tea soba noodles according to package instructions; drain and let cool. Set a colander over a pot of boiling water (aka a steam basket) and steam 1 cup chopped asparagus and 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen green peas. Whisk together zest & juice from 1 lemon, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp kosher salt & pepper; combine with noodles, asparagus & peas. Top with 1 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds and 1/4 cup feta cheese.
#9 Wild Rice with Mango and Miso dressing
inspired by The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood
Make Dressing: whisk 2 tbsp white miso, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp mango vinegar, and 6 tbsp walnut oil. Combine 1 cup cooked wild (black, long grain) rice, 1 diced mango, 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1 peeled, seeded diced cucumber, 2 tbsp chopped parsley and 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill. Arrange on a bed of mache or spring greens.
#10 Almond Gazpacho (essentially a blended salad!)
Smash a garlic clove and discard the green sprout in the center. In a food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups day old, diced country bread (crusts removed), the smashed garlic clove, 3/4 cup green grapes, 1/2 cup marcona or whole blanched almonds, 1 peeled, seeded & chopped cucumber, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp sherry vinegar, 1/4 cup cold water. Blend until completely smooth. Garnish with finely diced cucumber, green grapes and chopped almonds.