Hi there folks! I’m very excited to be writing for you again. I started this post a few weeks ago but went on a self-imposed blogging ban while I knuckled down to study for a reasonably important exam. Believe me, I would much rather have been cooking and posting more recipes for you, but sometimes we just have to focus on the task at hand instead of procrastibaking (or procrasti-blogging!)
Today I’d like to share with you a really cool and simple idea for making lunch.
I call it the EPIC LUNCH.
Ok, so it’s nothing groundbreaking, but after much experimentation I believe I’ve come up with a winning method that makes it super easy to prepare simple, tasty and healthful lunches to eat during the work week when you’re running around like a mad chook with no time to scratch yourself.
What makes it EPIC?
- It only requires 4 ingredients, plus a few condiments
- You cook everything AT ONCE when you have a bit of extra time, like on the weekend. Then it only takes a few minutes of ‘assembly’ each day. If you have enough time in the morning to throw together a ham and cheese sandwich, you have enough time for the EPIC LUNCH.
- I’ve selected ingredients that will provide maximum TASTE, NUTRITION and COLOUR (you know we eat with our eyes first, right?) with MINIMAL EFFORT.
- The ingredients are cheap. You could probably buy the whole week’s worth for the price of a doughy focaccia and a coffee from your local cafe.
- Did I mention it’s DELICIOUS?
So whether you’re trying to save some cash on eating out, want to feel energised instead of sleepy (thus preventing the 3.30pm slump), or just need a change from boring old ham and cheese, I encourage you to give the EPIC LUNCH a go. Plus, you’ll be the envy of all your colleagues :) I’ve been making lunch this way ever since it got too cold for salads, and honestly I haven’t gotten bored with it yet.
Elements of the Epic Lunch
1. Legumes – 4 cans
Black beans, kidney beans, white beans, chick peas, lentils; any of these legumes will do. They are little protein bombs (therefore: filling), can be flavoured with anything, are super cheap and require NO cooking if canned. I buy dried legumes and cook them, but if you can’t be bothered with this, canned ones are totally fine.
2. Cauliflower – one head
This cruciferous champion is super versatile. You can make it into soup or mash, pulverize it into tiny bits to make ‘rice’, and I’ve even seen a recipe for it coated in tandoori paste and baked whole.
But recently I’ve become obsessed with roasted cauliflower. What, roasted!? I hear you say. Yep, and let me tell you, it’s phenomenal. Oh, and cauliflower is very cheap right now. I get them for $2 each at the markets.
3. Red Capsicum (peppers) – 2 of ’em
You may be aware of the nutritional benefits of red capsicum (high in vitamin C, magnesium, antioxidents blah blah blah), but what you REALLY need to know is that it TASTES GOOD.
I only prepare it one way: grilled. I tell you what, it makes the house smell amazing, which is comforting when you’re stuck indoors on a cold rainy night with nothing but your study notes and a cup of tea to keep you company…(hang on – is this really my life right now? Sadly, yes.)
4. Kale – one bunch
Kale is also known as ‘Tuscan cabbage’ or ‘black cabbage’ (but thankfully doesn’t taste like cabbage at all. Or give you gas.) You can get it at most markets, greengrocers and Woolworths. Speaking of versatile veggies, this one takes the cake. I could write a whole post on how you can steam, bake, blend, stir fry or massage (yes, you read that correctly) this nutrient-rich leafy green.
In the EPIC LUNCH, however, we’re just going to use it raw. Too easy.
Apart from salt and pepper, I reckon you can get away with having only two spices in your pantry: cumin and paprika. I put these on everything and it totally works for me. Oh, and you need a good quality olive oil. I buy big cans of the Cobram Estate stuff from Coles, and use them to refill a smaller bottle. I recommend a ‘medium’ or ‘strong’ olive oil for better flavour.
What to do:
To simplify procedures, I’ve come up with the elegant acronym PIC-WIF*, which stands for: Put In Container, Whack In Fridge (don’t judge me, I’m cool ok!) Each of the ingredients will require PIC-WIFFING, or you can PIC-WIF a few together.
- Open up the cans of beans, drain and rinse. PIC-WIF.
- Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Throw into a large baking dish. Drizzle generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup), sprinkle with paprika and salt, toss it around a bit then pop in the oven at 180 deg C. Roast for 45-50 minutes, or until soft and browned around the edges nicely. Allow to cool, then PIC-WIF.
- Cut each red capsicum in half, rip out the seeds and stem. Flatten out and place skin side up on a piece of foil under a hot grill. Leave it there.
- Get your kale. Holding the stems at one end, use your other hand to rip the leaves off the stem in one movement. Discard stems (don’t attempt to eat them; they are really fibrous and difficult to digest. Feed them to your compost instead). When you have all the leaves you need, fold into a bunch and roughly chop. You can either wash all the leaves now (you will need to dry them thoroughly), or just wash the handfuls you use each day for lunch. PIC (or plastic bag) WIF.
- Smell that delicious, roasted, burny smell? That’s your capsicum done. It should be blackened and blistered. PIC with a lid, or a bowl with a plate over the top. Leave for at least 10 minutes (or just forget about it and come back later). Peel off and discard the skin. Roughly chop the capsicum and – you guessed it – PIC-WIF.
*I reckon PIC-WIF is totally going to catch on. I can see #PICWIF trending on Twitter, or becoming Urban Dictionary’s Word of the Day…like twerking…
Epic Lunch Assembly
Ok, now all your food is cooked and prepared, all you need to do each morning (or night before) is to fill your lunch container with the ingredients in this order:
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup legumes, sprinkled with cumin, paprika, salt, pepper
- A few forkfuls of grilled capsicum strips
- A cup or so of roasted cauliflower
- A generous handful of kale (really pack it in)
To serve, turn the whole lot out into a bowl. Microwave for a couple of minutes. The kale will wilt right down, and the olive oil will coat everything to form a delicious dressing. Mix around a bit with whatever rogue cutlery items you can scrounge from the staff kitchen, eat and enjoy!
Happy EPIC lunching,
What are YOUR ideas for making lunch EPIC? Please leave a comment below if you’d like to share your thoughts. I’d love to hear them!