Deconstructed lunch elements, waiting to meet each other.
Lunch can take me down, especially in winter. When we are scrambling to get out the door to training or a race, the idea of preparing lunch, after making breakfast, cleaning up and gathering/loading gear is a major buzz kill. But the penalty for not making lunch is hunger or French Fries. Lots of French Fries. NOT that I have anything against French Fries, and particularly the ones at the Dartmouth Skiway that must be double fried because they are so good. But we all know, the sad, cumulative consequence of too many French Fries.
My solution is (to try at least) to have a fridge full or delicious and healthy lunch fixings, ready to be combined the night before, or easily enough in the morning. Below are basic recipes for some essential elements, along with suggestions for the makings of the best darned lunch you can cram into a takeout container. The recipes for the beets, lentils and onions come from Stone Soup. Build an arsenal of sauces from Get Saucy With Me to have on hand and you’re good to go, to the Skiway and beyond.
Skiway Deconstructed Lunch Basics:
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Beets
- Massaged Kale
- Parisian Lentils
- Balsamic Onions
A few suggestions for other awesome things to have on hand:
- Roasted nuts and seeds
- Roasted vegetables
- Cooked grains like brown rice, quinoa and millet
- Hard boiled eggs
- Chopped olives or tapenade
- Cooked BACON, chicken and other protein. Did I say bacon?
Salads for two, in brilliant take out containers. Dressing in a repurposed caper bottle.
- However many sweet potatoes you want to cook in your hot oven.
Turn oven on to 400.
Wash potatoes and dry them with a paper towel. Prick all over with a fork. (One exploded potato will cure you from ever forgetting this step.) Put potatoes on a cookie sheet to catch the goo that escapes from the holes. Line the sheet with foil if you want zero cleanup.
Bake potatoes for about an hour, squeezing them to test for doneness starting at about 45 minutes. I like mine to have some structural integrity for slicing later.
When done, let potatoes cool. They can be easily peeled by hand if desired. Store covered in the fridge.
There are many methods for this so don’t worry too much about the ingredient measurements or timing. Some recipes only call for salt in the massaging, others only for oil, others for oil, lemon juice and salt and still others for the entire dressing. The point is just to break down the kale a bit so it is still raw but friendly and makes a worthy bed for all kinds of other good stuff.
- One or two bunches kale, washed, spun dry, stemmed and shredded or torn. *
- Olive oil, salt, lemon juice
*(You can easily stem kale with a big sharp knife by holding it vertically from the stem end and running the knife down the stem. Or you can go rogue and use your fingers. Grip the stem between thumb and forefinger and zip down the stem.)
Put kale into a big bowl. Drizzle with a Tablespoon or more of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and a good sprinkling of salt. Massage kale with your hands until it softens a bit and is a shinier, dark green. Store covered in the fridge until ready to use.
These keep a week or more in the fridge, so I generally make enough to fill up a large 9 x13 baking dish.
- 1-2 bunches beets, or a few large ones.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400.
Remove stalks from beets and scrub them well. Chop into wedges – either quarters, sixths or eighths. The smaller you chop, the faster they will cook. I like big wedges because I have more slicing and dicing options later
Splash with a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and the same of olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Cover tightly with foil and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until beets are tender. Season to taste. When cooled you can easily peel them by hand or with a knife, or just eat them with the peels.
I love these any time of day, even for breakfast with an egg on top. Full disclosure: I never measure these. I just boil a bunch of lentils and add equal splashes of the seasonings at the end. And if I don’t have sherry vinegar I cut to the chase with a splash of straight sherry. Saves you the trouble of having a separate glass of wine with dinner (or breakfast in some cases). The recipe calls for topping these with fresh ricotta and parsley, which sounds awesome.
- 7 oz French style green lentils (aka puy lentils)
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Place lentils in a medium saucepan and cover generously with water. Cover and bring to the boil.
Remove lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Drain lentils and return to the pan. Season with vinegar, soy and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Taste and add salt as needed.
I wasn’t going to include these but they are so good on pizza, sandwiches, salads and soups that they need to be in. If you’re over the taste of balsamic at this point just use a combo of olive oil and butter and sprinkle generously with salt. This clearly makes a ton, but they keep for a long time and are addictive so a ton is a good thing. Feel free to halve of quarter, but don’t complain when you are out of them so soon!
- 8 onions
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
(No need to use your best olive oil and balsamic)
Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat.
Halve onions, lengthwise, then remove the skins and slice into half moons. Adding chopped onions to the oil as you go.
Cover and cook on a medium low heat, stirring occasionally for about 1/2 hour or until onions are very soft but not browned.
Remove cover and add balsamic. Bring to a simmer and cook, again stirring from time to time for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced a little and the onions are slightly brown.