I am not alone in my belief in the importance of a good lunch. A good lunch can lift your spirits, perk up a bad day and provide you with the nourishment you need for a productive afternoon. That said, it can be difficult when you are busy or travelling to ensure you have something good to eat at lunchtime. Most takeaway lunch options are not good in terms of flavour, quality and nutrition, or even if they are, they have often been chilled so harshly, they don’t taste of anything at all. Food writer James Ramsden has just brought out his third recipe book, entitled Love your Lunchbox, which aims to get us enthused about packed lunches again. I am a great fan of the packed lunch, but I strongly believe that the most difficult elements to overcome when trying to prepare a packed lunch, despite good intentions, are ideas and planning.
This is a book packed full of interesting ideas for lunches – all of which are easily achievable, and I think it is a valuable addition to any kitchen as it contains so many lovely recipes, I defy anyone not to immediately start bookmarking recipes to cook over the coming days whilst leafing through its beautifully designed pages.
James and his team at Pavillion books have very kindly sent me a copy with permission to share this delicious recipe and images from the book (taken by Martin Poole) with you. For more details, please see here.
Griddled courgette and halloumi salad with toasted quinoa
Toasted quinoa is an excellent thing to have kicking about. Scattered over salads, tossed through pasta, or whatever, it adds a great nutty crunch to food. This particular recipe makes more than you need – it seemed to me that if you’re going to toast quinoa, you may as well do more than a single tablespoon. Store it in a jar.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup quinoa
2 courgettes (zucchini), sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 tbsp olive oil
100g/3½oz halloumi cheese, cut into chunks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
a good handful of rocket (arugula)
a few mint leaves, shredded
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
Boil the quinoa for 12 minutes, until tender. Drain and dry on kitchen paper as thoroughly as you can.
Meanwhile, heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat. Toss the courgettes in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and griddle for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove the courgettes, add a little more olive oil and the halloumi, and cook for a minute on each side.
Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan or sauté pan over a medium–high heat. Add the quinoa and a pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden, crisp and toasty, which should take 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Toss together the courgettes, halloumi, rocket, mint, chilli and lemon juice, and add a handful of toasted quinoa. Store in Tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days.
IN EACH LUNCHBOX
A portion of courgette and halloumi salad.