My colleagues in the newsroom tease me about my lunches. Not in a bad way. They like to peer over my cubby wall and look at my salad during lunchtime while I eat at my desk.
“Look!” they will exclaim. “She is using a real plate!”
It’s true. There is nothing more unappetizing than eating a meal straight out of plastic container. Maybe if you are sitting on a grassy riverbank on a warm summer afternoon. Then it’s OK. But eating like that in front of your computer with a blinking cursor waiting for your return to work is just plain depressing.
So I like to spread my lunchtime salad out on a real plate.
And yes, salad is my go-to lunch that I pack from home. I’ll be in the shared kitchen at work and people will be looking at me as I arrange my lettuce and pre-cut up vegetables.
“That looks so good,” they’ll say, as they wait for the microwave to stop spinning their cardboard box full of food around. “I don’t have the patience for that,” they will add.
Here’s where my colleagues are wrong. It’s easy to pack a salad for lunch once you get into the rhythm and have a steady supply of fresh vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and cheese on hand. Try it. Put it on a pretty plate and use an actual utensil instead of a plastic spork to eat it. You’ll feel like you actually ate a meal instead of snack that was sort of satisfying. All it takes is about 10 minutes in the morning to put together a delicious and good-for-you lunch before you head out the door.
And once you establish the habit, there will be no going back. Here’s what I packed today:
Couscous butternut sage salad
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup couscous (1/3 cup dried)
1/2 cup roasted butternut squash (prepare this the night before)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup dried fruit (dates, raisins, or cranberries)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slivered almonds (I actually didn’t have these today, but wished that I had!)
1. Toss greens with the red onion and celery and then spread them in a nice layer on a plate.
2. Bring 1/2 cup water and olive oil to boil in a sauce pan. Add 1/3 cup dry couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Wait 5 minutes, fluff with a fork.
3. Add roasted butternut squash to cooked couscous, set aside.
4. Heat butter in a small pan and sautée the sage leaves and dried fruit for a minute or 2. I used candied dates – delicious!
5. Add sage leaves and dried fruit to couscous-squash mixture, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Arrange couscous mixture on top of greens. Top with slivered almonds. Enjoy! You really don’t need a dressing.
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